Skellig is about a boy called Michael, who finds an angel in his crappy old broken-down garage. Or, to be more precise, in his crappy old broken-down garage, he finds a filthy, exhausted, starving, unfriendly man called Skellig with growths on his back that Michael suspects are wings (which proves to be the case). Michael’s baby sister is very sick, and because he is very worried about her, and can’t help her, he focuses his energies on taking care of Skellig instead. Mina, the strange, clever girl next door, helps him and teaches him about bones and William Blake (two useful things to know about).
I liked this book because there was a period of time during which some member of my family was always in the hospital. Every time one member of the family got better enough to go home, someone else got sick. We spent all this time fretting and crying and reading trashy magazines in ICU waiting rooms, operating waiting rooms, hospital bedrooms, bedrooms in rehab facilities – just all year, it felt like. (I have a really enormous family, to be fair, scads of aunts and uncles; and counting the people my cousins married and the babies they’ve had, I have close to sixty cousins now.) So Michael’s family life felt familiar, that thing of always saying how completely all right everything’s going to be, and doing the hospital visits, and the waiting for things to turn out just as all right as you’ve been saying all along they will turn out to be.
I also liked that Skellig is never called an angel. The exact nature of what he is, is never certain to Michael or Mina – they are just fascinated and awed by him, and determined to do the right thing for him. They aren’t looking for a reward, although it proves rewarding. And the whole thing is more spiritual, than religious, which I also like. I’ll have to check out the ITV film – this will be the first movie I have seen Tim Roth in since my deceitful friends talked me into watching Pulp Fiction by saying Tim Roth is in it even though they knew full well he was only in it for like ten minutes. Pooh.
Other thoughts on Skellig: