The Thirteenth Home of Noah Bradley – Amber Lee Dodd

Noah Bradley is unable to maintain friendships or make long term plans as he is never certain how long he will live in the same place for. For every year of his life he has had to pack up his belongings, leave his friends behind, enlist at yet another new school, and start the whole process again. This is because Noah is a member of a family that has been cursed, and in order to try to outrun the chaos and destruction that they face when the curse catches up to them the family move around frequently – until the curse finds them again. One of the biggest struggles Noah and his younger brother Billy have is not being able to settle in with the same friendship circle for very long, and both boys want nothing more than to enjoy the familiarity of the family home, living in the same town, and going to the same school consistently. They are not asking for much really, just to be like you and I,

One of the family rules that ensure that Noah’s family stays out of danger is to look out for early signs that the curse has caught up to them, but when Noah decides to ignore any suggestion that this is the case, prioritising time with his friends and some sense of normality instead he is consequently reminded of what is important in life, the relationships that do hold value, and is taught that the bonds between true friends strengthen when faced with adversity. This is definitely the case with Neena, a girl that lives a few houses away from Noah, and who attends the same school as him too. The pair become inseparable when they learn each others secrets, and given that Noah is on his thirteenth home when he is introduced to her it is safe to say he is in need of someone that is there for him, something as the reader you find yourself willing to happen from the offset.

As the story progresses the tension builds, and with Noah, Billy and Neena facing danger, uncertainty and chaos in order to survive the circumstances they find themselves in whilst looking to break the curse, it is safe to say there is never a dull moment, and you will struggle to put this book down willingly. The trio are so strong willed and determined that they find ways to overcome hurdles along the way, as they embark on an unbelievable journey, ensuring that each has a significant role to play if they are to be successful, appreciating each others strengths along the way. There are times when the responsibility of it all overwhelms Noah, who admits that he got it wrong and should have done things differently, making him a role model to readers with his honest and raw revelations. Furthermore younger brother Billy remains authentic and sincere throughout the entire ordeal and in doing so ensures that readers see the benefits of such characteristics when they realise he is liked by everyone. Given that Billy is quite unique in his choices of clothing he wears alongside having hearing aids because he is deaf, it is genuinely heart warming to read of his issues being relevant to those other children have and can relate to, such as being afraid of the dark, and that the reader does not have to empathise with Billy for his hearing issues and seeing him as a capable and supportive younger sibling.

Having the support of family and friends is what gets the trio through so much of their ordeal, and this story definitely has a strong sense of family and the lengths we are all prepared to go to in order to protect our loved ones, and keep them safe too. The thrill of this story balances the heart warming side to it, where siblings look out for one another and children step up, and go above and beyond the expectations of others for the greater good of ones family. This book has danger, deceit and daring in spades, and keeps you guessing as to how it will end the entire way through as you accompany Noah, Billy and Neena on a once in a lifetime adventure. In so many ways this story has a familiar feel to it which is largely down to the fantastic writing involved, which immerses the reader amongst the unfolding drama from the very start of the book, and then envelopes them in a landscape that could just as easily be some where local to the reader, with friendship dynamics the reader will undoubtedly relate to, and learn from in the process too.

The Thirteenth Home of Noah Bradley was published on 2nd April 2020 by Scholastic.

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