A new book from Stewart Foster is always something to look forward to, he has a knack for getting into the hearts and minds of his characters connecting them superbly with the reader. ‘Check Mates,’ is a compelling and thoughtful read about one boy’s struggle to fit into a world in which is impossible for him to fit into because he is unable to conform to others expectations of what it is to be good. Felix’s ADHD makes it incredibly difficult to concentrate making his teachers frustrated and his parents are already under an enormous strain and can’t take much more. Left alone with his grandad whilst his parent work long hours, he feels like he is trapped, stuck in the house with an old man who is locked in his own personal grief. Both stubborn with their own agendas firmly in place they battle to have their own way. But a game of chess agreed to reluctantly teaches Felix the most unexpected of lessons and shows him for the first time there is an alternative for him.
Once again Stewart has delivered a story that is truly remarkable and surprising. He has an incredible ability to see the world so clearly through the eyes of his characters that you feel you’re genuinely having a insight into their lives. His characters feel so real and authentic they appear before your eyes having their conversations right in front of you. He is never afraid to tackle difficult issues or shy away from the impact they can have on all family members, nothing is seen in isolation. I particularly loved Felix’s grandad who though is terribly grief stricken sees there may be a way to help Felix even it means confronting a horrific past that he has kept secret for decades. Cleverly mixing the past with the present gives this story an added poignancy and keeps the reader guessing to the very last pages. It’s ultimately a story of having hope when all seems lost, facing your fear and embracing your dreams even when they appear in the most unlikely of places. Another powerful and empathetic read from Stewart, I can’t recommend it enough.
Thank you to Simon and Schuster for sending me a gifted copy of this brilliant book. ‘Check Mates,’ is available to buy now online or from any good bookshop.