This Much Huxley Knows

Now that the wheels of time have hastily hauled me halfway up the hill of middle-age, I find myself looking back on my childhood through increasingly rose-tinted glasses.  Remember the days of never having to worry about money?  Never having to plan ahead further than which game you would play when you got home from school?  It all looks so idyllic from the precarious heights of adulthood, surrounded by bills and endless responsibility.  But the truth is life wasn’t perfect back then and being that young came with a whole set of very real frustrations, like having to go to bed early when there was good stuff on tv and not being allowed the Mr Frosty ice-drink maker that EVERYBODY ELSE HAD AND WHY IS LIFE SO UNFAIR. (Note: my parents did eventually buy this for us after a lengthy campaign of emotional blackmail, a technique that sadly never worked on getting a dog).  It is this complex childhood paradox of complete freedom yet constant constraint that Gail Aldwin captures perfectly in This Much Huxley Knows, a book that instantly took me back to being 7 years old and all that this entailed.
The story is told to us through the eyes of Huxley, a rambunctious young boy who lives with his mum and dad, enjoys spending time with his best (out of school) friend Ben and doesn’t like it when adults argue.  He is a bright spark with an aptitude for words, breaking them down into their components in a humorous and highly entertaining way.  (Whilst I love the fact he calls Brexit “Breaks-it” which is far more apt that the original term to be frank, my personal favourite is lip-bee-dough which he overhears his mum and her friends giggling over). On a visit to the barbers with his dad, Huxley meets Leonard, an elderly man with a mobility scooter who takes a shine to our hero.  What he can’t understand is why everyone tries so hard to keep him away from his new octogenarian buddy – after all, he is friendly, always has chocolate, and is keen for Huxley to visit his flat.  We follow Huxley’s journey as he puzzles his way through the frequently baffling world of adults and their seemingly nonsensical decision-making.
One of this book’s greatest strengths is the voice of our narrator, which is so authentically 7 year old boy that at times I forgot it wasn’t a true story.  Aldwin brilliantly portrays the mind of a young child in these pages, yo-yoing from topic to topic at high speed and regularly questioning an adult logic that really doesn’t make sense when you think about it in any detail. In fact as the tale progresses, it becomes clearer and clearer that whilst the grown up world may present itself as having all the answers, adults don’t really have it all figured out at all.  Huxley’s mum is just as likely to fall out with her friend Lucy as her son is to experience upheaval in his group of pals; the bullying our protagonist is subjected to is replicated cruelly towards Leonard by those most certainly old enough to know better. Reading this left me with an over-arching sense that children are not born with the ability to judge but learn this from the adults around them, and they are far more astute at knowing when something is going on than they are ever given credit for.
I felt sad to finish this story and leave Huxley behind, as the time spent between these pages reconnected me with my younger self in a way I haven’t done for some years. I recommend this book as a compelling and heart-warming tale that genuinely leaves you feeling hope in a way that only 7 year olds can. Now, where did that Mr Frosty go?


Author: Bookaholicbex

Book-nerd with a passion for all things literary. If only real life would stop getting in the way of reading...

4 thoughts on “This Much Huxley Knows”

  1. Reblogged this on the writer is a lonely hunter and commented:
    If this brilliantly crafted review of This Much Huxley Knows doesn’t have you rushing off to purchase a copy from Amazon, nothing will.
    Thank you, Bex. You’ve made my day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well this comment isn’t really going to compare to the one from the author, but I’d like to correct the use of “us” in regard to the Mr. Frosty. Was that you and your imaginary friend?! That was all yours as you often reminded me! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

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