The Truth and Lies of Ella Black – the forty day time-scale
This books seems to have caused fierce ‘love it/hate it’ feelings amongst readers. Was the dark side of Ella, who kills a bird within the first few pages, a step too far? Or is it something else? Do readers just find her selfish and unlikeable?
What a great title for the first chapter! ’40 days until she dies’.
Why 40? Why is she going to die?
40 days strikes a familiar chord, since Jesus did it first, most famously, when he was being tested by the devil in the wilderness…. did Ms Barr have this in mind as a parallel when she decided on the time scale? Is Ella being tested, too?
Ella Black has forty days to find answers about her life, and a lot happens to her in that time. She changes a great deal and is forced to act, react and act again. Because we know her time is limited, the tension is massive – we’re going to be counting down with her!
Reading this book as a mother, perhaps, I had a different aspect from readers in Ella’s peer group. I wanted to reach out and help a child who was going through raw pain. I thought Ella evolved in her own way, and I liked it wasn’t a happy-ever-after as I imagine one to be, but it satisfied Ella. I don’t know how someone the same age as Ella might think about this character; I’d love to hear your opinions.
Have you read this book? Did you see any significance in the number forty? Did you consider it as an important time-scale?