Goodnight Mister Tom or what I have come to affectionately rename “the book that made me dangerously dehydrated throughout the month of January due to the sheer volume of tears I shed” is a story about healing.
Goodnight Mister Tom & Healing
William “Willie” Beach is an abused, heartsick, emotionally & physically traumatised child who, during the London Blitz, ensconced with cantankerous old graveyard keeper Thomas “Mister Tom” Oakley.
It quickly becomes clear to us that this “sewn in (to his underwear) for the winter” child, who had never slept in a bed, run in a field or been given any normal childhood joys, is in desperate need of affection, understanding, patience & love. Well, that & a fair amount of physical healing too.
Beaten ruthlessly by his mother, William is undersized, undernourished & under the impression that Mister Tom will be just as unkind & unlovely as his mother is.
Happily, he is wrong.
Under the careful watch and aid of his caretaker Thomas Oakley, William not only begins to heal, but to thrive. He makes friends and learns that there is nothing “wrong” with him. He begins to accept that he is not evil or horrible as his mother had told him to believe.
Thomas Oakley is a heartbroken man.Widowed at a young age, Thomas Oakley loses both the love of his life “Rachel” & his only son. He, as a result, learnt to shut himself off from the world. Until William Beech gives him a new reason to live.
We are treated to moving, emotionally dynamic, lyrical prose, and a story that would soften even the hardest of hearts, the tender portrayals of relationships, affection & love bring at the forefront.
I wouldn’t necessarily describe Goodnight Mister Tom as a page-turner, excepting perhaps at the middle point when Mister Tom goes to visit William in London. (This is of course after William’s been forced to return by his mother. Mister Tom ultimately ends up kidnapping him.)
That is not to say that the beautiful prose isn’t gripping in its own way. The emotion of the story alone is a sheer force to be reckoned with within the pages, every internal monologue, whether it be Tom, William or even his mother, an instant visual into the inner workings of torment, love, fear & anger playing out.
Goodnight Mister Tom as a Children’s Book
As a children’s book, I didn’t know what to expect. Having read it now aged 30, I certainly wouldn’t allow my oldest avid reader (aged 8) to read the book for a good few years at least. The themes of death & despair in some sections would, I think, be too much for a younger mind to handle. Ultimately I’d say aged 10 — perhaps even 11 — would be a good juncture for a child to be introduced to the story. A sensitive child I would wait even longer.
Even still, that is not to say that I didn’t enjoy it. I actually loved it. This heartwarming tale struck a cord deep within me.
It taps into human emotion beautifully. I think, because I read it now as a mother, I was able to appreciate all of the characters fully, understanding them, from William’s childhood fears to Mister Tom’s adult ones. That is a rare thing to find within a book.
Ultimately, this is a story about needing other people and about doing the right thing. It shows us that, in helping someone else, you can find yourself. And that in allowing someone to help you, you can become strengthened, healed, made well, the person you were meant to be.
It is truly a gorgeous book & I hope you’ll take the time to read it in the future! Let me know what you thought of the book by leaving a comment!
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Below are the links to our next two books (for February & March)! These are affiliate links which means there is no further cost to you but it helps keep my little blog afloat! Each link should give you the option for Kindle or paper editions!
February: “Stardust” by Neil Gaiman
March: “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” by Gail Honeyman
Do you have a copy of Goognight Mister Tom? There’s a link at the bottom of last months book review here – go ahead and get it! Just remember to have plenty of tissues handy!