Barney Delaney is 13. He also has Cherubism – the rare genetic condition which disfigures the face and causes all kinds of problems. On top of this, he has a mother who is often tired and unwell and a father who is nearly always away working. It's not easy being Barney Delaney, you know.
An adventure book for both adults and teenagers with a penchant for discovering, The Number 3 Mystery Book is a darkly humorous investigation into the search for truth and what it means to accept your fate. As well as that, it's a tale about the pain of learning to love and forgive in the face of adversity, and how, when it comes right down to it, friendship matters more than anything.
The Number 3 Mystery Book was not what I was expected. I knew the author was funny, but honestly, how do you make a 13 year old with a grossly deformed face funny (if you giggled you're going to hell)?
This book is whimsy, charming, and terribly droll.
Once again forced to experience the cringe worthy tribulations of adolescence, you can't help but think of Barney as your slightly demented younger brother who needs to stop acting like the world is a magic place full of wonder, and start to act like the misbegotten oddball he is. Not that your words of caution and woe would stop this rascally devil from achieving his goals.
There are times when reading, you smile so sadly, because Barney sees the world with such innocence. He makes the most dreadful of situations, like a guilt-ridden father, and depressed suicidal mother, hit you in a previously undiscovered nook of your heart. Oh what the hell, he's like Quasimodo on the heart strings. The harrowing situations sneak up on you and leave you at a loss as to how Barney manages to accept the worst in life, and simply carry on. The one thing in particular that endeared me to Barney was his ability to lie within a (bent backwards) version of the truth. Quite a marvelous skill I never managed. Let us call it equivocation, though there is probably a better word hiding in the dictionary somewhere.
Considering how absorbed I was in Barney's world, and how taken I was with him, the spitfire that is Wonky, and one thumbed Mr Grundy with his Man Club Potion, the character that stood out for me was Barney's mother. She was so helpless and fragile. She invoked powerful emotions. Dear me, I teared up a few times. Maybe the reason why she became important to me is because Barney loved her so, despite her numerous and heartbreaking failures to be a good mother. Everything she did was in earnest, but I (secretly) think Barney's parents were dreadfully selfish in general when it came to their son. There were some moments I was flush with anger his father upset me so much.
I won't tell you the nitty-gritty of the story, but I can reveal through the highs and lows, his ongoing war with reflective surfaces, his scandalous and utterly distracting personal life, Barney D'Laney is determined to become the world's most famous and successful Cryptozoologist, don't you know? (I have now decided Cryptozoology is my reliable and almost fool proof back up profession should my current one fail.) But first, to achieve this awe inspiring level of greatness he just needs to catch the monster-fish-thing (his words not mine) in Mr Grundy's pond (though not at night!).
Yes, I very much enjoyed myself. 5 skulls of Epic-ness-ness!
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