Published by Zephyr, an imprint of Head of Zeus, 2020.
The Key to Finding Jack is a brilliant mystery story. It’s full of heart, with important messages about following your own path and being true to yourself.
12-year-old Felicity (Flick) idolises her older brother, Jack. He’s six years her senior and has recently journeyed to South America on his gap year. He’s in Peru when disaster strikes: a huge earthquake hits Lima and Jack goes missing. Flick seeks solace in Jack’s bedroom, surrounding herself with his things. While she’s there, she finds Jack’s fine gold chain necklace with a small key pendant attached. Flick is surprised that Jack didn’t take it with him; he treasured it and always wore it. She’s even more surprised by the note that she finds in the box next to it: ‘For S.F. to keep until I’m back.’
Who is S.F.? Flick is determined to find out. She’s convinced that this somehow will be the key to finding Jack. Together with her best friend Keira, Flick begins her investigations. I really enjoyed piecing together the clues and trying to solve the mystery alongside the two girls. With each step of their enquires, Flick learns something new about her brother – something which challenges or alters her perception of him. To begin with, Flick struggles with this and feels cheated and a little bit bit sad because she hadn’t known about these other sides to her brother. Then she reasons that there are things she’s kept hidden from Jack too. I liked this exploration of the notion that we never truly know someone and all the many facets to their personality.
The theme of family is particularly important with a special focus on the close sibling relationship between brother and sister. The book also places much value on the older generation, recognising their knowledge and experience and the full lives they’ve lived.
I really enjoyed the descriptions of South America too. Ewa evokes the landscapes particularly vividly.
For me, the book’s strongest message is ‘N’oubliez pas de vivre’: don’t forget to live. It’s about finding what makes you happy, the things that make you feel alive, and doing them. It’s about making sure that your days are not full of the mundane and the necessary but include what’s really important too.
Suitable for children aged 8+
Thank you to Head of Zeus for sending me this book to review.