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The Key to Finding Jack

Ewa Jozefkowicz

Zephyr Books – 3rd September 2020

“N ‘oubliez pas de vivre”

Flick’s older brother Jack leaves for a back-packing trip in Peru on his gap year but shortly after arriving, an earthquake hits, devastating much of the area he was supposed to visiting. The authorities are unable to locate him and his phone just goes to voicemail. As the coverage in the news dwindles and there’s still no word from Jack, everyone fears the worst.

Unable to accept that her brother may be gone forever, Flick seeks comfort in Jack’s room. Surrounding herself with him, she finds a mysterious box and inside, is a tiny key on a gold chain. A note with the initials ‘SF’ is also in the box and Flick is convinced that this is the ‘key’ to finding her brother.

Enlisting the help of her best friend Keira, Flick is determined to solve the mystery of her brother’s disappearance and The detective duo draw on the help of a small group of people whose lives were intertwined with Jack’s. They encounter many twists and twists and turns along the way and as they get closer to the truth, Flick uncovers a legend of Inca gold and discovers a side of her brother she never knew existed. We learn that Flick is a talented writer and there’s a lovely little ‘story within a story’ a mystery she writes herself – readers will be intrigued by the illusive ‘red beret girl.’

‘The Key to Finding Jack’ is a satisfying and enjoyable read for Key Stage 2 children. The short chapters would make this a pacey class read-aloud, great for squeezing in more of the story throughout the school day. I devoured this book in matter of hours and became so invested in the characters. I felt Flick’s pain, worry and desperation, anxious to know that Jack was safe. If you’ve ever been in a situation where a loved-one is uncontactable, even if for a short time, you will have felt that same frantic helplessness. My heart ached for Flick as she struggled to come to terms with the fact that her big brother is now grown-up and she won’t necessarily be involved in every aspect of his life anymore – that feeling that many younger siblings will have felt at some point of being left behind. The story also highlights how very special the relationship between Grandparent and Grandchild can be; confiding in them, marvelling at their stories of times past and their unconditional love ad encouragement.

Jozefkowicz manages to explore many different themes so sensitively whilst skilfully weaving them into a thrilling mystery: the incredible bond shared by siblings, the overwhelming feeling of being unable to live up to parents’ expectations (and not wanting to), the often difficult dynamics of ‘fitting-in’ at school, the pain of releasing you are growing apart from someone you love. There are such powerful messages for all of us in this book, following your dreams, doing what you believe in, not what other people want you to do, not losing sight of what’s important but my favourite and very poignant message for our recent times…

Don’t forget to live

Flick’s Grandma Sylvie is absolutely right, weighed down with the pressures of everyday life it’s exactly the kind of thing that people forget to do. Seize the opportunities, see the world, make the memories to tell the stories and most importantly, do what makes you happy.

with thanks to NetGalley and Zephyr Books for providing me with a digital copy to review in advance of publication.

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