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
For ages: 10+
Type: Historical Fiction