The Blurb (from Goodreads):
I knew my brother. I knew when he talked too much about Timothy his imaginary pet eagle. He was scared.
‘Whatever you do,’ I said to Davey on the walk to school, ‘Do not tell people about your eagle. Do not tell Miss Schweitzer about your eagle.’He looked crestfallen. His shoulders slumped. He looked to make sure Timothy hadn’t fallen off.
Lenny, small and sharp, has a younger brother Davey who won’t stop growing – and at seven is as tall as a man. Raised by their single mother, who works two jobs and is made almost entirely out of worries, they have food and a roof over their heads, but not much else.
The bright spot every week is the arrival of the latest issue of Burrell’s Build-It-at-Home Encyclopedia. Through the encyclopedia, Lenny and Davey experience the wonders of the world – beetles, birds, quasars, quartz – and dream about a life of freedom and adventure, visiting places like Saskatchewan and Yellowknife, and the gleaming lakes of the Northwest Territories. But as her brother’s health deteriorates, Lenny comes to accept the inevitable truth; Davey will never make it to Great Bear Lake.
An outstanding novel about heartbreak and healing by an award-winning author.
I adore Karen Foxlee’s books! Her writing is so delicate and yet so powerful. Lenny’s Book of Everything is the story of a small, vulnerable family living together in a small American town in the 1970s. Lenny and her brother Davey are being raised by their mother Cynthia, their father having left and never come back. They are very poor, and Cynthia works two jobs to support them. Lenny is a prickly little girl, wary of being hurt, longing for something she cannot articulate. One day they win a set of encyclopaedias, with one book arriving every few weeks. And so they begin at A, and work their way on through the alphabet. The encyclopaedias enchant them, and give them a taste for the wonder of the world, and – as Davey grows and grows and grows – turns into a source of comfort for them. For Davey has a type of pituitary gigantism, and soon Lenny will need all her strength to endure his loss.
Such a beautiful, sad book. Even thinking about it brings a lump into my throat. And I’ve been thinking about it a lot since I finished it. A truly unique creation.