Beck by Mal Peet and Meg Rosoff

Mal Peet, October 1957—March 2015

The gut-wrenching story of a boy searching for warmth in a cold and often hostile world. Beck is a fantastic character – clever, resourceful, and with an indomitable instinct for survival. You want to follow him right up to his hard-won happy ending.”
— The Guardian

Beck by Mal Peet and Meg Rosoff

The final novel from Carnegie Medal-winning author Mal Peet is a sweeping coming-of-age adventure, with all the characteristic beauty and strength of his prose. Both harrowing and life-affirming, Beck is the sweeping coming-of-age adventure of a mixed race boy transported to North America. Born from a street liaison between a poor young woman and an African soldier in the 1900s, Beck is soon orphaned and sent to the Catholic Brothers in Canada. Shipped to work on a farm, his escape takes him across the continent in a search for belonging.

Enduring abuse and many hardships, Beck has times of comfort and encouragement, eventually finding Grace, the woman with whom he can finally forge his life and shape his destiny as a young man. A picaresque novel set during the Depression as experienced by a young black man, it depicts great pain but has an uplifting and inspiring conclusion.

Press

Beck by Mal Peet, completed by Meg Rosoff, Reviewed by Alex O’Connell — The Times, 27 August 2016

Meg Rosoff on finishing Mal Peet’s final book: ‘The collaboration kept me in dialogue with him months after he died’ — The Guardian, 12 August 2016

Beck review: Mal Peet’s unfinished novel gets a helping hand from Meg Rosoff, by Cameron Woodhead — The Age, 30 September 2016

Reviews

This extraordinary novel is powerful, shocking, uplifting, funny and beautifully written. Every page of this book is bursting with life, observation, feeling and conviction. It is a collaboration between two remarkable writers, fusing the best of both.”
— The Sunday Times Book of The Week

The author’s language is so rich throughout and Beck’s journey told with such apparent effortlessness, this swan song deserves readers and a prize of its own.”
— The Times Weekend

Peet’s final book, almost finished at the time of his death, and completed by Rosoff at his request. It’s a powerful, harrowing and ultimately uplifting coming-of-age drama following the adventures of a mixed-race boy transported to North America.”
— The Bookseller

Peet, who won the Carnegie Medal for his 2005 novel Tamar, died last year; his friend Meg Rosoff, who finished the book, has done him proud.”
— The Times

A compelling coming-of-age story, with an equally beautiful and brutal backstory”
— Eastern Daily Press

It’s a raw, challenging, coming-of-age story where the instinct to survive almost trumps the power of love. Peet’s wit seeps through the darkness and though Rosoff ’s almost invisible hand is skilful, it reminds us of what a wonderful writer we have lost.”
— Daily Mail

How much of this is Peet and how much Rosoff is left an open question. What really matters is that this novel definitely comes off, with its softening of tone towards the end balanced by the graphic cruelty that has gone before. Beck himself is a difficult, taciturn character, who has long ‘misered the cold coins of disappointment close to his heart.’ Understandably suspicious whenever things seem to be working out for him he is still able to accept his good fortune by the end, and few if any of his readers would wish it otherwise.
— Books for Keeps

Engrossing, overwhelming and at times shocking, Beck is an epic novel in just over 250 pages. It’s impossible to tell where Peet’s work ended and Rosoff’s began. It’s a remarkable swansong for Peet and an outstanding piece of storytelling from Rosoff.”
— The Scotsman

This powerful coming-of-age adventure set in the 1920s is harrowing, but ultimately uplifting.”
— Carousel

This an extraordinary novel – shocking, moving and beautifully written. Despite its darkness, it has unexpected humour and is ultimately uplifting.”
— The Sunday Times, Children’s book of the year

Vivid, plangent and textured, Beck is a testament to a great talent, which Rosoff has helped to bring into the world both tenderly and passionately.”
— Literary Review