Falconer, Helen 1958(?)-
FALCONER, Helen 1958(?)-
PERSONAL: Born c. 1958, in London, England; father a television scriptwriter; children: four. Education: Attended St. Anne's College, Oxford.
ADDRESSES: Home—County Mayo, Ireland. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Persea Books, 171 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016.
CAREER: Writer. Worked as journalist at several newspapers in England.
Primrose Hill (novel), Faber & Faber (London, England), 1999, Persea Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Sky High (novel), Persea Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Also book reviewer for the London Guardian.
SIDELIGHTS: Helen Falconer depicts life among London's disaffected youth in her two novels, Primrose Hill and Sky High. In the former, the author offers a story narrated by Si, a teenager who becomes involved in a murder plot. Si's mother, Josie, has a boyfriend who keeps her supplied with drugs and physically abuses her. Si's friend Danny argues that they should murder the boyfriend to improve her situation, but Si is horrified by the casual manner with which Danny and his other friends support the murder plan, even as he is filled with revulsion for his mother and her companion.
According to Connie Fletcher, a reviewer for Booklist, in creating Si's narrative Falconer has delivered some "screamingly funny" writing, even as she provides a vivid portrait of a grim world. Primrose Hill is "powerful," concluded Fletcher. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly also found that the book's "verve infuses the bleak events with intelligence and heart." In his New York Times review of Primrose Hill, Richard Gehr pointed out the skillful way in which the author depicts how "Si struggles mightily to maintain his outward cool while exploding with rage inside. Falconer nails the clumsy inarticulateness of angry and confused teenage boys who can't adequately convey their misery."
In her second novel Falconer again portrays young people in London who are struggling with moral dilemmas as they come of age. The main character in Sky High is Ferdia, a sixteen-year-old boy. Ferdia's father has abandoned the family to take up with a young pop star, while the boy's mother has become romantically involved with a neighbor who is only slightly older than Ferdia himself. Not happy or comfortable with either of his parents, the teenager spends most of his time at the home of his friend Matt. Considerably less well off than Ferdia, Matt lives in a run-down public housing unit, where the boys practice for hours with their rock band. Even this creative outlet is disrupted when Ferdia's teacher, a thirty-three-year-old woman named Cassandra, has initiated a sexual relationship with him, threatening suicide if he reveals their affair to anyone. As Ferdia struggles with the confused feelings engendered by his liaison with Cassandra, Matt goes into a downward spiral that leads to a suicide attempt. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented that Falconer "has no moral to preach, and her story is blackly humorous." Library Journal reviewer Bob Lunn praised the author's "deft ear and defter characterizations."
Speaking to Jane Wright in an interview for Camden New Journal, Falconer commented: "I like teenagers…. They're old enough and intelligent enough to think about things, while still being emotionally fresh. Every issue is new to them. They're not tired or cynical, so they're interesting characters to write about."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 1, 2001, Connie Fletcher, review of Primrose Hill, p. 1226; October 15, 2003, John Green, review of Sky High, p. 388.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2003, review of Sky High, p. 1090.
Library Journal, October 15, 2003, Bob Lunn, review of Sky High, p. 96.
New York Times, May 6, 2001, Richard Gehr, review of Primrose Hill.
Publishers Weekly, January 29, 2001, review of Primrose Hill, p. 63; November 24, 2003, review of Sky High, p. 43.
Camden New Journal Online, http://www.camdennewjournal.co.uk/ (June 22, 2005), Jane Wright, interview with Falconer.
Young Minds Web site, http://www.youngminds.org.uk/ (June 22, 2005), review of Sky High.