17 Martin Street is an enjoyable historical novel written by Marilyn Taylor for teenagers. It is set around Martin Street close to the South Circular Road, an area where large numbers of the Jewish community lived.
Marilyn sets the novel during the Second World War. This was a very difficult time for Jewish people. And even though Ireland was neutral during the war, Dublin was bombed and people experienced hardship as a result of the war.
The main characters in the novel are Ben, the boy whom the story is based around; Hetty the Jewish girl who moved into the house beside Ben; Eddie, Hetty’s cousin whose house was bombed; Ben’s dad Stephen who doesn’t like Jewish people, refugees, and foreigners; granny who lives with Ben and his Dad; Mam who is very sick during the story; Renata, a refugee girl hiding somewhere in Dublin; Uncle Matt, Ben’s uncle, a trade union member who shows a lot of understanding towards Renata; Sean, Ben’s brother who attempts to report Renata but Uncle Matt steps in and stops him; Zaida, Hetty’s granddad, who when Ben breaks a window with a football, pays for it and then gives Ben a job to pay off the money for it.
This novel has a very interesting plot. It includes Ben saving two drowning puppies; Ben goes to see a Rovers match and doesn’t have enough money but fortunately meets Hetty’s cousin Eddie and they go see it together; Eddie’s house is bombed; Ben, Hetty and Eddie try to save a refugee girl called Renata.
My favourite part is when Ben breaks the window while playing football. I would like to think that if that ever happened to me and I broke the window someone would be nice enough to help me pay off the debt.
This book gives us the message that racism is bad and even if you know someone who is a different religion or has different interests to you, you can still be friends. My favourite description in the book is when Hetty and Mabel describe the matza crackers. The book is very easy to understand. I’d say people nine and up could read it.
However there was one particular moment in the story that I didn’t enjoy and that was when the bombs were dropped and destroyed the houses. I didn’t like this part because it was just sad to think what it would be like to have your house blown up and all your possessions destroyed.
My favourite character in the novel is Mossy the puppy. I like Mossy because he’s a puppy and he was saved from drowning by Ben. He is also energetic. The novel has a fairly good ending. For a time you expect the ending, but then there’s a twist and it changes, but then by some strange means it goes back to the way you would expect it to end.
The novel will appeal to teenagers and adults with an interest in teenage novels and adventure. I would highly recommend this novel and would award it eight out of ten.