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Beck by Mal Peet, Meg Rosoff


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One of our YA Books of the Year 2016.

September 2016 MEGA NewGen Book of the Month.

Please note we think this book is suitable for 16+ only. In turns brutal and passionate, Beck is an utterly compelling story of survival and romance which will catch the breath of all readers and inspire them to fight against injustice. And to trust in the power of love. The eponymous Beck’s fate is a bleak one: conceived accidentally, orphaned young and betrayed by all those who might have looked after him, Beck is dispatched to Canada, a country then in the grip of depression. Abused by the Christian Brothers and still a young child, Beck is sent into a life of servitude made worse by prejudice because he is black. Escaping, Beck takes to the road in search of something better. His journey and the experiences on it are harrowing but, when it reaches its end, Beck discovers kindness and love and finds there is a place for him in the world. Award-winning Mal Peet’s final story has been finished by his friend and fellow award-winning novelist Meg Rosoff. Together they have created an unflinching story that tackles the many inequalities of the world head on.~ Julia Eccleshare

Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

  • Melanie Chadwick - 'At times very bleak, this is a very tough story of hardships endured and a childhood ruined. The overall feeling of the book is however one of hope.' 

  • Humaira - 'I wish it was to my taste but alas it wasn't. Hopefully it resonates well with someone else.' 


Beck by Mal Peet, Meg Rosoff

Both harrowing and life-affirming, the final novel from Carnegie Medal-winning author Mal Peet 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.


'Peet is fabulously talented' -- Amanda Craig, The Literary Review

'For some time now Mal Peet has been the most elegant prose stylist in the world of young-adult fiction [...] one of our best novelists, full stop.' -- Anthony McGowan

'Peet died more than a year ago, so a final novel from him is something very special indeed. [...] an episodic coming-of-age drama that is powerful and harrowing but ultimately uplifting.' The Bookseller

About the Author

Mal Peet, Meg Rosoff

Mal Peet's first novel, Keeper, won the Branford Boase Award and the Bronze Nestle Children's Book Prize; Tamar won the Carnegie Medal; and Exposure was the winner of the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize. A writer and illustrator, Mal produced many books for children throughout his lifetime, most of them in collaboration with his wife, Elspeth Graham. He also wrote a critically acclaimed adult novel, The Murdstone Trilogy. Visit his website here.

Meg Rosoff is the award-winning author of How I Live Now, which won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize and the Branford Boase Award. Her second novel, Just in Case, won the Carnegie Medal and her other books include Picture Me Gone and Jonathan Unleashed, her first novel for adults. She lives in London. Visit her website here.

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Book Info

Publication date

18th August 2016


Mal Peet, Meg Rosoff

More books by Mal Peet, Meg Rosoff
Author 'Like for Like'


Walker Books Ltd


272 pages
Interest Age: From 14 years


NewGen - YA Fiction
Books of the Month
eBook Favourites

Historical fiction (Children's / Teenage)



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