24 Hours by Margaret Mahy, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
24 Hours

24 Hours

4.0 1
by Margaret Mahy

View All Available Formats & Editions

It is seventeen-year-old Ellis's first night at home after graduating from prep school. By chance he bumps into Jackie Cattle, whom he remembers from grade school. Jackie is a couple of years older than Ellis, a drifter, disreputable, yet with an odd charm and a disarming wit.

For the next twenty-four hours, Ellis enters an extraordinary world on the fringe of


It is seventeen-year-old Ellis's first night at home after graduating from prep school. By chance he bumps into Jackie Cattle, whom he remembers from grade school. Jackie is a couple of years older than Ellis, a drifter, disreputable, yet with an odd charm and a disarming wit.

For the next twenty-four hours, Ellis enters an extraordinary world on the fringe of society that he never knew existed. Jackie introduces him to life at the Land-of-Smiles, a dilapidated motel where nightly a strange collection of local characters gather to drink and talk. Two attractive sisters, Ursa and Leona, the elder studying to be a lawyer, live there. Leona loves and takes care of a baby whose mother stops in only once in a while. Then the baby disappears, and Ellis is thrust into a wild, sometimes almost violent search for the child.

This is a stunning novel that grips the reader as it sweeps to its conclusion. Rich characterization, breathtaking action, and an ultimately heartwarming solution distinguish this latest triumph of Margaret Mahy.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Mahy (Memory; The Changeover) once again captures age-old yet contemporary adolescent sensibilities. Ellis, an aspiring actor who has just graduated from prep school, runs into an old public school friend who leads him on a 24-hour escapade into a very different social stratum. Together they end up in the Land-of-Smiles, a run-down former motel and gathering place for aging activists, tattoo artists, hairdressers and other fringe characters. Ellis develops a crush on Leona, the middle of three sisters who preside over the hotel and who have virtually raised themselves. For Leona, he embarks on a chase to find a kidnapped child, leading him simultaneously to the culprit--a boy from his own privileged society--and to a newfound sense of self. Mahy laces Ellis's narrative with Shakespearean references both to contrast the hero's wealthy circumstances with the poverty of the Land-of-Smiles and to discuss metaphorically the prospect of death for those who fear it and those who do not. These references tend to romanticize hardship ("If you live our sort of life you get to love things that don't turn out quite right," says Leona's older sister), but the quick pace and assemblage of quirky, appealing characters will hook readers. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Ellis has just graduated from prep school. In his first 24 hours at home, he finds an old acquaintance who convinces him to crash an elegant barbecue and then introduces him to a fringe society on the other side of town—he gets drunk, awakens with his head shaved, leads a car chase to save a kidnapped baby, has himself tattooed as a way to glean information from the tattoo artist, and persuades an old nemesis not to commit suicide. Pretty heady adventures for a seventeenyearold. This is a quick, easy read that is full of suspense. The situations are raw, adult, and sometimes sordid, but they could set the scene for very constructive discussions with teenagers about choices—What do you think of Ellis' choices? What are the consequences of his choices? Is there any redeeming value to life at the LandofSmiles, that fringe society? How would you choose to spend your first 24 hours after graduation? New Zealand author Margaret Mahy gives readers a lot to ponder. 2000, Margaret K. McElderry Books, Ages 15 to 18, $17.00. Reviewer: Karen Leggett
To quote KLIATT's Nov. 2000 review of the hardcover edition: Here is another novel for Mahy fans, again with a theme of transformation. Ellis, a suburban middle-class teenager, spends 24 hours with a group of people who make him see the world differently. It starts out in a rather ordinary way, as Ellis is on a school holiday (this is New Zealand) contemplating his plan to go to university the following year to study acting. He misses his friend, Simon, who committed suicide. Perhaps his loneliness is a reason why he goes along with a casual acquaintance who asks for a ride to a party at the home of a wealthy boy they both know. Christo, the host, is someone who has always tormented Ellis, since they were much younger, and at the end of this 24 hours, Christo will be the tormentor again. This is a 200-page journey, as Ellis meets new people, stays in a strange place, becomes embroiled in a kidnapping, confronts evil, and ultimately changes forever. There is confusion, suspense, and rather sophisticated dialogue. YA readers will be stretched to follow the complicated plot and will soon realize this is not escapist fiction. This is true, of course, of all of Mahy's work. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2000, Simon & Schuster, Aladdin, 208p., $10.00. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Claire Rosser; KLIATT , November 2001 (Vol. 35, No. 6)
Among Mahy's many skills as a writer is her ability to create a wide variety of convincing physical and mental realities—rural landscapes, urban centers, the fog of Alzheimer's disease, and the chill of supernatural visitations. In her latest novel, Mahy experiments with a different kind of reality—an intense, almost voyeuristic vision of a single day, from Friday evening to Saturday evening, in the life of seventeen-year-old Ellis Hudson. Just back from prep school with a summer to fill before he heads off to study acting at the university, Ellis feels both at a loss and excited in the city that used to be his home. Before he has a chance to plan his own course, however, Ellis bumps into an old acquaintance and is swept up into a string of wildly unpredictable adventures. Most of his hours in the novel are spent at the Land-o-Smiles, a former motel that now serves as a sort of home and shelter for working-class or unemployed young adults. Their energetic but unconventional lives both excite and frighten Ellis. Soon he loses his hair, gains a tattoo, helps solve a computer theft, rescues a kidnapped child, falls in love, and comes to a better understanding of what he hates most—suicide. Mahy's fast-paced and matter-of-fact dialogue lends the book strength and humor. Ellis's adventures are compelling, but the book seems more reminiscent of currently popular reality-based television programming, especially MTV's The Real World, than a conventional novel. For many young adult readers, however, this style is likely to be a bonus. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2000,Simon & Schuster, 208p, $17. Ages 16 to 18. Reviewer: Megan Isaac

SOURCE: VOYA, December 2000 (Vol. 23, No. 5)

School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Take a walk on the wild side in an unnamed New Zealand city with aspiring actor Ellis, 17, who falls in with Jackie Cattle, a disreputable former schoolmate. Jackie uses Ellis to crash an elegant lawn party and pry Ursa and Leona, two beautiful sisters, from the nasty clutches of their rich host, Christo. Ellis drives the girls home to the weird, otherworldly "Land-of-Smiles" hotel, where their profane, scruffy surrogate family sweeps him into drunken oblivion. He and his newfound friends soon discover that a baby abandoned to their care has been kidnapped. A high-speed car chase ensues, Ellis falls in and out of love with Leona, and he gets a tattoo before puzzling out the identity of the kidnapper. The climax involves Ellis quoting Shakespeare from the dizzying heights of the old public library rooftop to save the baby from the suicidal Christo. Bizarre as it sounds, this energetic novel will entertain mature readers. A subplot about Simon, a former friend of Ellis's who committed suicide, is too abbreviated to carry much emotional weight. Otherwise, this is an edgy and highly charged introduction to some interesting characters.-Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Junior High School, Iowa City, IA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Kirkus Reviews
It's 5:10 on a Friday afternoon and Ellis, 17, has just come home after graduating from prep school. He's walking through the streets reacquainting himself with his hometown and dreaming about the adventures he'll have at university the following year when he runs into an old acquaintance who is about to launch him into the strangest and most eventful 24 hours of his life. Jackie Cattle, a few years older and a shady character, convinces Ellis to drive him to a party in a wealthy suburb, and as they crash the party, Ellis wonders what Jackie is up to. Jackie, true to his character, causes trouble at the party and eventually they leave, now joined by Ursa, Jackie's sometime-girlfriend, and Leona, Ursa's sister. They all head back to a rundown motel—the Land-of-Smiles—where the two girls, Jackie, and several others, including a 12-year-old and a baby, live in an arrangement that's somewhere between a seedy commune and squatters' digs. Ellis, the product of a conventional upbringing, has never seen anything like this living situation, and, while shocked and intrigued by the independence of its inhabitants, he's glad he has a solid middle-class home to return to. Somewhere along the way, in the space of a few hours, Ellis has fallen head over heels in love with Leona and become embroiled in the intrigues of the Land-of-Smiles. By Saturday night, a mere 24 hours later, Ellis has been dead drunk, has careened through the streets in a car chase, has rescued a baby who has been kidnapped, and has realized that Leona is not destined to be the love of his life. In other words, his desire for a life-changing adventure has been amply met. Mahywonderfullycaptures the voice of an adolescent in the character of Ellis, managing somehow to make what could have been an awful story into a work of art. Beautifully written, this is a novel that pulls one into its orbit from the very first page. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Simon Pulse
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st Aladdin Paperbacks Edition
Product dimensions:
5.52(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.55(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >