Literary Hero of the Month: May 2017: Bod from ‘The Graveyard Book’ by Neil Gaiman

Hi guys,

Apologies for not doing the #LHOTM for so long! Without further ado, I have chosen Bod from Neil Gaiman’s award-winning ‘The Graveyard Book’ to kick things off again. So- what can I tell you about Bod? Well, on one hand, Bod is a fairly normal young boy- a bit too curious, and a little bit mischievous. He loves his family, and wonders about the outside world, and those who live in it. Chris Riddell’s fantastically Gothic illustrations present him as a scrawny, tangle-haired knobbly-kneed misfit, bursting with questions, wonder and energy. He is unsure what adventures his life will hold, what path he should take. School is strange and different and fascinating, full of people he’s never met before. So far, so normal.  On the other hand, however, Bod is radically, uncannily different- his parents were brutally killed by a mysterious, bloodthirsty man named ‘Jack’, and his adopted family is actually a collection of kind-yet eerie-ghosts. His home is a graveyard. His avuncular friend Silas is a vampire who sleeps in a steamer trunk. And he has been taught some of the ghosts’ peculiar abilities- drifting, shifting, slipping-away-silently. And Bod is actually short for ‘Nobody’, because, as the ghosts see it, that’s who he is- nobody, with no identity, no name to carve on a headstone. At least for now. The problem is of course that, Bod is not a ghost- he’s still a human boy, and although TGB is ostensibly written for children, the issues explored within it- surprisingly complex themes of identity, belonging, and acceptance- easily resonates with adults as well. (Or, at least me.) A nuanced, thought provoking book with a relatable and endearing character at its core- even if part of Bod isn’t quite sure whether he wants to leave the ‘afterlife’ at all.

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