'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Sunday 10 November 2013

Review: Stay Where You Are and Then Leave

It is no surprise that John Boyne once again writes about children and war after his highly successful, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (KBR review here).  His ability to enter his characters’ heads and perfectly capture their voice always results in a well-rounded and superbly crafted novel.

This tender and powerful novel about love and the tragedy of war had me spellbound till the last page.  I need to now read everything he’s written for I fear I’ll have lost something valuable if I don’t.

War breaks out on the day Alfie turns five. His dad enlists and the loving life Alfie and his mum knew up to his departure, disappears. Boyne takes us on a journey through their despair and survival without the father. We witness the way the adults in Alfie’s life keep secrets to shield him from pain although he’s an extremely bright and insightful child more than able to cope with the truth.

We are placed in the trenches with the soldiers and the rats, the mud and the danger of collecting the wounded, and the stench of the hospitals. I suffered at the persecution and alienation of conscientious objector Joe, who refused to kill people after he had been bashed for years by his father. There’s much in this novel to discover, for war changes everything and everybody, and the struggles of body and mind frequently have a journey of their own.

John Boyne’s work has been justifiably published in 46 languages. His artful dialogue is a sharp instrument that forces an emotional response. It awakens the senses and brings life to an era of death and suffering, which can be seen as the correlation of love, courage and strength.

Title: Stay Where You Are & Then Leave
Author: John Boyne
Illustrator: Oliver Jeffers
Publisher: Random House, $16.99 RRP
Publication Date: October 23 2013
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780857532947
For ages: 10+
Type: Historical Fiction