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The Hypnotist In the dead of night Pip is plucked from an orphanage and hired as a farm hand But Pip is black The farmer and his wife are white And this is 1960’s America where race defines youJack Morrow has left his native Ireland dreaming of a new life in the American Deep South He has certain skills that he mostly keeps hidden Skills in hypnotism and mind controlPip and Jack’s lives become inextricably linked as the heat of racial tension builds to a terrifying storm”Part thriller part love story this extraordinary debut novel looks at where life can take you when your expectations are greatOfficially endorsed by Amnesty International The Hypnotist was hailed by The Bookseller in their ‘Ones to Watch’ section as ‘gripping compelling storytelling with a powerful anti racist message’ While Anholt's writing is often enthralling I would be much interested to read the fictionalisation of antisemitism he had originally intended to write about Unlike his authorial note that ‘colour prejudice can work both ways’ it is imperative that children are taught to understand racism and particularly anti Black racism as historically rooted and systemically sustained All prejudice is wrong and anyone can be prejudiced towards anyone of any colour But the institutions and systems upon which Western societies were built and continue to operate are specifically anti Black and must be understood as such; racism must be taught in context The problem with this book is that the author has failed to understand and to represent the systemic nature of specifically anti Black racism in the US As a result the novel's treatment of racism is often age inappropriate and seems to jar with its predominantly light hearted humorous tone Although not intentional this has the effect of minimising and caricaturing making serious topics unbelievable and racist behaviour incomprehensibleLynchingsNear the end of the book Hannah describes to Pip how she witnessed the boys who used to work at Dead River Farm ‘swinging side by side in the poplar tree’ Without information about how and why lynchings are perpetrated children will neither comprehend this scene nor understand it as the conseuence of a hate fuelled public celebration of extreme racially motivated violence; the logical conclusion to the process of dehumanisation made inevitable by White supremacy What’s because the boys are unnamed and under described they are merely ‘the twins’ it is hard for readers particularly young readers to emotionally process the scene and its significance Because the novel's several descriptions of lynchings lack proper contextualisation they risk perpetuating the process of dehumanisation and even trivialising these unimaginable acts of inhumanity The KKKThere is a well described moment where Jack considers calling the police to report the activities of the KKK at Dead River before realising 'with a feeling of absolute dismay' that he had witnessed patrol cars attending the initiation ceremony This along with the discovery of Professor Cerberus’ participation is an effective demonstration of institutional racism and its wide reaching terrifying implications However the actual depictions of members of the KKK in the novel are somewhat disarming For example Cerberus presents as a charming affable man who continually asserts that the KKK is simply misunderstood Rather than conveying the idea that racism can exist anywhere this downplays the extreme nature of Cerberus' beliefs portraying him as deluded rather than culpable Erwin too is at times abominable and at other times sympathetic he is ‘out of his mind’ and just wants to be a ‘good soldier’ By recasting these ‘villains’ as misguided antagonists the author somewhat absolves them of responsibility for their White supremacy and detracts from the abhorrence of this ideologyAnd this perhaps would be understandable if it were to make the wider point that in a society built on the premise of White supremacy everyone has the potential to be or become racist Unfortunately the novel’s characters contradict this notionErwin’s 'conversion' occurs in Vietnam as a result of his PTSD addiction and indoctrination as if this perfect storm was his initiation into radicalisation rather than its catalystZachary and Lillybelle ‘had not been racists in fact there had been many non White employees on the family farm’ translation some of their best friends were Black” This runs contrary to all other information The couple do not employ the ‘non White’ children they enslave them Pip is literally 'bought' for 75 the children receive no financial recompense for their work at Dead River and they are warned never to leave the farm on pain of death To depict Zachary and Lillybelle as harmless or even benevolent eventually ‘releasing’ the children without critiuing their contradictory and racist behaviour provokes uestions around how much the author understands the topics his novel explores And herein lies the rub Ultimately despite good intentions there are some worrying and contradictory messages in this book which would not exist if the author had experienced the specific type of racism he seeks to explore 2018 CARNEGIE LONGLIST BOOK 1520 Looking back I'm changing my rating to two stars because this book realy was not exceptional and there were a load of things that annoyed me about it I do think that this was an interesting idea But I could kind of tell it was a debut novel? It felt like there was to give to come and that's okay because first novels aren't always perfect I feel like this was maybe not as powerful as it could have been And I found it hard to separate the sciency stuff from the magicy stuff? It didn't really work for me personally The story is definitely uite dark Pip is a black boy in America at the highest point of racial tension This book covers topics such as racism and the KKK I don't really know enough about this subject to comment on it but I do think this book does a good job enlightening people to it and its horrors The book wasn't problematic in any way and I really liked the themes of hope and the fact that not all the characters are horrible It made the book a pleasant experience I do have mixed opinions on the characters though I really love Lilabelle or is it Lilybelle? and her unending positivity She is a very inspirational character I also really liked Hannah The short chapterpoem things from her POV are a really nice addition to the book They were both sweet and sad I found Pip a bit flat but the character who really rubbed me off the wrong way was Jack Morrow I don't know why I think it was maybe just the way his voice spoke in his first person narrative but he was just really annoying Sorry Jack Also I wasn't enamoured with the fact that the book kept changing POV I think I would have enjoyed the book had it just been in the third person all the way through Maybe that is just because I prefer third person or maybe because I really disliked the way that Jack came across in his chapters but it would have honestly improved the book so much for me personally I find it irritating when a book changes POV because there always seems to be one you dislike in most cases which can dampen your enjoyment of the story And I wasn't 100% keen on the hypnotism thing? Yes I hear you saying THAT IS THE WHOLE POINT OF THE BOOK but I guess it is just personal taste And I lost my taste for it through the ever irritating Jack Morrow or doctor jack morrow to use his full moniker yes this is very annoying after he has said it about 10 times So yeah this was interesting but not exceptional But I feel like this is a case of me not the book So no hard feelings This is a heavy book that some readers might find disturbing so I will give you that warning before you go into it But if this sounds like your kind of thing go for it uite a combination of elements They work though A very different book The Cure for Dreaming combined female emancipation and hypnotism in a story of women's rights in the early 20th centuryHere we are placed in the 1960s in a time and place where Jim Crow rules where the KKK work discreetly with violence to instil fear An orphaned black boy Pip named after his schoolteacher mother's favourite Dickens novel is taken from the orphanage to a Southern white owned farm to work as farmhand The farmer is less than friendly but his wife is desperate for a child to read to her and Pip reads from his mother's copy of Great Expectations and warms uickly to the obese but motherly woman he works for A Native American girl also works for them but is muteThe second strand to the story and second narrator offers us an outside glimpse of Pip's life Jack Morrow Irish neighbour to the farm and local professor and expert in hypnosis watches as Pip struggles to fit into his new life and into the community where black people are less than fairly treated and where racist incidents are a regular occurrence Especially as the farm owner's grown son is soon hellbent on ridding the place of Pip Pip Jack and soon the mute Hannah are caught together in an exciting tale of survival Jack's skills of hypnotism are integral to their tale and Great Expectations is also skilfully interwoven into the plotWith real life KKK atrocities part of the story and insights into the organisation this feels dangerous There's a love element some mystery and some appealing characters throughoutI was reminded of a recent read Beck by Mal Peet Meg Rosoff with some basic elements of the plot but this really is uite uniue and intenseOthers have compared it favourably to 'Mockingbird' and I can see why with some similar themes While it's not in the same league it will be excellent material for someone reading Harper Lee as a set text as usual follow up it is excellent for discussion material on 1960s civil rights background history uite violent in places and could be uite upsetting to younger readers so I would recommend this to KS3 and above in particular those age 14 and above When Pip is bought and paid for at an orphanage he is worried for his future But the worn skinny old man called Mr Zachary who 'adopts' him seems kind enough on the long drive back to his farm as he explains what he wants Pip to do Since Pip was the only boy who could read at the orphanage he was the perfect candidate to read to Zachary’s bed ridden wife LillybellePip is shocked when he meets her but they soon build a positive relationship as he covers her every need and reads from his copy of Great Expectations a gift from his mother before his parents died in a car accident There is another young teen at the farm Beautiful mute Hannah – an American Indian who Pip thinks is the most beautiful girl he’s ever seenBut life on Dead River Farm isn’t all sweet The Zachary’s have a son called Erwin an angry Negro hating Vietnam vet and also a leader of the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan His parents warn Pip to stay out of his way and Pip does just that at least until the day Erwin finally catches himThis story is told in two viewpoints – Pip’s story in 3rd person and the Zachary’s neighbour Jack Morrow in 1st person Jack is a university professor from Ireland and an excellent hypnotist He's been watching the goings on next door with increasing worry Can he help?Let Mr Morrow hypnotise you with this story and see how Pip Hannah and the Zachary’s cope with the evil of the Ku Klux KlanBrilliantly written Absolutely loved it A bit ‘Mocking Bird’ a bit ‘Shawshank’ – a great piece of story hypnotism

  • Paperback
  • 304 pages
  • The Hypnotist
  • Laurence Anholt
  • English
  • 23 November 2014
  • 9780857551658

About the Author: Laurence Anholt

In a career spanning three decades Laurence Anholt has produced over 200 children's books which are published in than 30 languages Titles like the self illustrated Anholt's Artists series have sold many millions of copies around the world Laurence has also collaborated on numerous picture books with his wife the artist Catherine AnholtLaurence's first YA Crossover novel THE HYPNOTIST


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