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I'm so glad I've got round to reading this. I've listened to the 'Light Jar' as an audiobook and loved it but this is the first Lisa Thompson book I have read. I know! Why the delay? 'The Rollercoaster Boy' is an absolute delight: charming, funny and full of hope. It's a book about empathy, spotting the clues to see the best in people, in spite of life's ups, downs, twists and mysteries. 

When Todd's dad takes him and his sister Laurie to Paradise Hotel, Todd knows something isn't right. Life is always a rollercoaster with Dad and so when they find the hotel is rundown and definitely not any kind of paradise, Dad shuts himself in his room and sleeps for days. With nothing to do, Todd and Laurie explore the hotel, meeting the eccentric Scout, daughter of the owner. There are mysteries in rooms 13 and 42. If they can solve them, following strange clues, then they might just save the hotel and the people in it, including Todd's dad...

I enjoyed 'The Rollercoaster Boy' immensely. Lisa Thompson's prose, through Todd's voice, is clear, springy and warm. With it's central mysteries, of people and place, the story is unputdownable and simply such a pleasure to read. There is plenty of humour and Thompson's talent is drawing out such a vivid cast of characters with spark and depth. The exchanges between the children and the hotel guests are brilliantly realized and utterly charming. I can't work out who I love the most: Todd, his sister Laurie, the plucky Scout, Patrick, who shows his tender side as the story progresses, the wild man in room 13, or even Todd's dad, in all his vulnerability... Because at its heart this is a story about the lens in which you understand people and the surface appearances that are often deceiving. Clearly Todd's dad is suffering with some kind of bipolar disorder, with depression weighing heavy on him. Like the hotel itself, people can seem rundown or reactive, but, underneath, everyone can be vulnerable and in need of empathy. 'The Rollercoaster Boy' perfectly captures this sentiment and does so through a plot that twists and turns but ends on a high - a story that ultimately soars with hope, compassion and understanding. Brilliant!

Right, I really need to read more of Lisa Thompson's books now! 'Goldfish Boy' here I come...

https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-rollercoaster-boy/lisa-thompson/9780702301599