Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton was an absolutely fantastic and superb novel that will live in my memory for a very long time. I already know it’ll be in my top 5 this year because of how amazing the reading experience was for me.
Three Hours is set in rural Somerset during a snowstorm. To make matters worse, the school is under siege by masked gunmen, one of whom has just shot the headmaster Mr Marr and are ready to harm the children. It takes place over three hours, 180 anxious moments that will change the lives of those impacted by the events forever.
Rosamund Lupton puts you into the shoes of a range of different children and adults trapped in the school. You have the fantastic duo of brothers Rafi and Basi both of whom are refugees from Syria and are suffering from PTSD. The relationship between them and the love they have for each other was absolutely heartwarming and it made me so sad for everything they’ve been through like many other children in war torn countries.
“You are as brave as a Barbary lion, Rafi said. ‘And a Bengal tiger.” “Brave as Sir Lancelot,’ Basi said. ‘And the little mouse in The Gruffalo.’If he could just keep thinking of more brave people and animals, on and on, Rafi wouldn’t leave him. Brave as Odysseus,’ Rafi said. Basi tried to think of another brave person or animal, but he was being too slow. “Brave as Basi Bukhari, Rafi said. “I love you, Little Monkey.”
We also have Hannah, Rafi’s girlfriend who is doing her best to keep Mr Marr alive, and Beth who is one of the parents worried and nervous about her son Jamie who is still inside the school. There is also the drama teacher Daphne who tries to keep the children’s minds at rest from the dangers outside the theater room they’ve secured themselves in by rehearsing Macbeth and many more characters throughout the story.
Usually when a story is told from multiple points of view it can sometimes be erratic and not flow well, but Rosamund Lupton is superbly able to let us see what each of the characters is going through. There is so much depth to each of them that you really feel as if you’re there with them.
There are also things going on outside of the school in terms of the counter terrorism people with Detective Rose Polstien handling the hostage situation. There is a lot of detail of what happens when things like this occur and I got vibes of the Netflix show Money Heist. You can tell the author did a lot of research because the wording is very meticulous. Rose attempts to get into the mind of the people behind the hostage situation and why they would do such a thing.
“Rose didn’t choose to study investigative forensic psychology because she was fascinated by criminal minds (unlike her fellow students, though Rose graduated top of her year); the minds she finds fascinating belong to composers, artists, playwrights, poets, engineers and architects and to people who have done extraordinary, but not criminal, things.”
In terms of the writing, I thought the way Rosamund Lupton was able to create this intense level of mystery to what was going to happen and this feeling of foreboding was amazing. It made me both anxious and nervous as to what was going to happen to the teachers and children and whether they would escape to safety or not. I also thought the build up to discovering why and who has taken the children hostage was soooo fricking intense and executed perfectly. I was gob smacked at the big reveal and at no point expected it.
Throughout the story a theme that the novel tackles is radicalization particularly the rise in white supremacy and Islamophobia. I applaud Rosamund Lupton for really shedding light on not only those who can find themselves in a vulnerable place leading to radicalization, but also the amount of hate that the media vomits regarding Muslims through the tweets written by Donald Trump and even headlines in newspapers.
I’m sure many of us have noticed as soon as the word “terror attack” is seen on the news many people naively assume it’s Muslims. This is something which Rosamond Lupton highlights in the novel.
“You’re saying ***** been radicalized?
But that’s Muslim teenagers going off to join ISIS or girls going to marry fighters in Syria,
Overall, this was a heartwarming, nail-biting, and anxious read that had me on the edge from start to finish. It is a tale of courage and above all else the importance of having a sense of community and how love will always backhand hate in the face as said by one of the characters at the end of the book
“Love is the most powerful thing there is and the only three words that really matter are I love you.”
The whole novel also really opens your eyes to things such as the racism and radicalization and has left me feeling scared at how this is increasing more and more in the real world. It reminded me of all the terrible things that have happened in America that could be prevented if governments could stop being so money hungry and do more to make the world safe. There has been far too much heartbreak in the last few years and it makes me so sad that it’s not getting better.
I really hope more can be done to educate and stop this poisonous mindset that racists and far right groups are injecting into people in the UK and across the world.
Finally, thank you so so so so much to the lovely Rosie and Penguin Random House for sending me this powerful read ✊🏽