When Stephen Rose moves to town, thirteen-year-old Davie's ordinary life is soon filled with things that are most certainly not ordinary. Davie, along with his best friend, Geordie, is a mischievous altar boy, warring with kids from the neighboring town, hanging out with his friends, and just starting to get attention from girls. In David Almond's Clay, Stephen Rose is a quiet boy just a bit older than Davie and Geordie. Father O'Mahoney asks Davie and Geordie to befriend this boy about whom rumors are already flying through town. The gossip about Stephen is not made any better by the fact that his aunt is a local woman known as Crazy Mary.
Stephen Rose has an interesting talent. He can take clay from the pond, and, with it, create fabulously life-like sculptures, when all the other boys can do concerning the arts is to laugh at their teacher and splash paint around. Stephen Rose is, from the start, quite obviously different.
While it might be smarter of Davie to not get involved with Stephen, he can't help but find himself intrigued by this boy so different from the rest of the people in Davie's small town. Davie finds out
that Stephen's talent with clay is much more than it appears to be. Stephen has a gift that Davie has never seen before--one he claims is in Davie as well: Stephen can bring the figures he creates from the clay to life. It is because of this talent and Davie's help that Clay is born.
Clay is a man-like sculpture built in the night by Davie and Stephen, given life--or at least something like it--that same night. He is, Stephen says, kept alive only by the will of his creators. Without it, he is gone, only a lump of clay. At first, it's not real to Davie. But he comes to realize that Clay is real, and
that Davie can command this innocent being. Stephen, however, can also command his creation. He can make Clay do anything that he wishes, and Stephen's wishes are rather sinister. As Stephen's plans come to
light, Davie is forced to accept that there is certainly much more to Stephen than
his simply being a boy with an unusual talent for art. The question is, what is Davie going to do about it?
The story David Almond tells in Clay is an unusual one. It is not a typical young adult book at all; I can think of nothing else like it. It is a beautifully written novel by a talented author.
His book Heaven Eyes is equally dream-like, haunting, and brilliant. In Clay, Almond creates a world that, while very real, is equally surreal. It is an odd and sometimes beautiful mixture of reality and the supernatural,
created in a unique way. The book is at times confusing, and it takes awhile to digest what is written, but it's a good book
with an interesting story adn even more interesting deeper themes. Clay can be appreciated on different levels, making it an even more brilliant piece of work by an amazing author.
This book will certainly fascinate readers, pulling them completely into the remarkable world Almond has created, leaving them reluctant to look up from this novel and force themselves back into the real world. David Almond shows, in this book, a rare gift for creating stories that literally will take your breath away as you forget to exhale while attempting to simultaneously race through the story and slow down enough to fully absorb it all. No one should miss Clay.