I’m sure this will be the first of many books about the First World War which I will read over the next two years, and what a one to start with. Written by John Boyne, probably best known for The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas [now released as a film] this is a touching story of a boy’s determination to help his soldier father. Destined to become a children’s classic, it is a tough tale with a tender touch.
Boyne doesn’t shy away from the difficult subjects of enemy aliens, conscientious objectors, loss, injury, death and fear. On July 28th 1914, war is declared. It is also Alfie Summerfield’s fifth birthday. His biggest wish is to go one morning with his father Georgie on the milk cart with his horse Mr Asquith. Life changes for Alfie and his mother without Georgie. As the years pass, Alfie stops believing the grown-ups who say the war ‘will be over by Christmas’. Then his father’s letters stop arriving. Alfie’s mother says Georgie is ‘on a special mission and cannot write’ but Alfie doesn’t believe her. He doesn’t like being treated as a child, so he decides to do something about it.
This is a story about belief, empowerment, and the strength of children in adversity.
Here’s my review of John Boyne’s A History of Loneliness.
‘Stay Where You Are & Then Leave’ by John Boyne [UK: Corgi]