Welcome to 11-year-old Harri Opuku's world, where fast running is exalted, girls make him feel "funny," and the rules for rock, paper, scissors are very serious. He's an innocent – a Ghana immigrant to the London projects who often humorously misuses English words – living in a corrupt, poor, and crime-ridden London slum. He tries to make sense of his new surroundings, and the evil he so often finds in them. So much so, that when a boy at his school is murdered, Harri and his best friend Dean set out to solve the crime, using their best impressions of detective work, as seen on their favorite television show, CSI. But their fun game turns dangerous when they stumble upon real evidence.
With the perfect mix of little boy earnestness, child-like wonder, and a spot-on Ghana accent, Turpin breathes life into the naive, but observant Harri. Slang phrases that may be hard to comprehend when simply reading the story like (“ahsweh”, for “I swear”) are easily understood when rolled out in context by Turpin's tongue. Her brogue talent is only magnified when she effortlessly switches between Harri's voice and the strong Cockney accent of his British school friends.
The only misstep of the novel are the short narration breaks throughout, where a pigeon takes over with his observations. It's almost like a guardian angel, but it's in the form of a bird. They're superfluous and head-scratching, but Turpin breezes through them and re-establishes Harri's narrative with ease. If you're looking for an intense murder mystery, keep looking. But if you enjoy intriguing and poignant slice-of-life stories, this book is for you. Not since The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-Time, has there been a child protagonist that is so thoroughly and uniquely captivating. Colleen Oakley
Lying in front of Harrison Opuku is a body, the body of one of his classmates, a boy known for his crazy basketball skills, who seems to have been murdered for his dinner. Armed with a pair of camouflage binoculars and detective techniques absorbed from television shows like CSI, Harri and his best friend, Dean, plot to bring the perpetrator to justice. They gather evidence - fingerprints lifted from windows with tape, a wallet stained with blood - and lay traps to flush out the murderer. But nothing can prepare them for what happens when a criminal feels you closing in on him.
Recently emigrated from Ghana with his sister and mother to London's enormous housing projects, Harri is pure curiosity and ebullience - obsessed with gummy candy, a friend to the pigeon who visits his balcony, quite possibly the fastest runner in his school, and clearly also fast on the trail of a murderer.
Told in Harri's infectious voice and multicultural slang, Pigeon English follows in the tradition of our great novels of friendship and adventure, as Harri finds wonder, mystery, and danger in his new, ever-expanding world.
Splendidly narrated by Audible favorite Bahni Turpin (The Help).
Emma Donoghue, bestselling author of Room, raves, "Simultaneously accurate and fantastical, this boy's love letter to the world made me laugh and tremble all the way through. Pigeon English is a triumph."
©2011 Stephen Kelman (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
I know it's "Pigeon English" but I had a hard time understanding. I thought the more I listened the more I'd understand, but couldn't get very far into it. Stopped listening. Sorry, looked like it'd be good
Sorry, but I really did not like this book. I was expecting a story, but the beginning is almost free-association narrative dealing with all-negative emotions, & did not capture me at all. I didn't like any of the characters, & just didn't want to spend any more time listening. The reader did a good job, however.
I'm not good about reading other peoples reviews first given our varying tastes... and maybe should. Only one person saw the good in htis one...l I tried, and the narrator, who I’ve enjoyed immensely before, helped... some. But that can not save a meandering, pointless story from itself. Maybe there will be a point made eventually, including what happened to the dead boy introduced right from the start, but I give up… and it takes a lot for me to do that because I’ll listen to a poor story but I’ve moved on!
The good: Fascinating characters that spring to life, vivid descriptions, very atmospheric. Outstanding narrator, does a wonderful job with the accents
The bad: absolutely nothing happens for pages and pages and pages...as much as I liked the characters, I got extremely bored and finally gave up. It's kind of like the "No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency", only even slower paced - if you liked those books, you might like this one.
Listening to this book was time well spent, because it gives the reader a perspective from a child immigrant who is living within a partial family and missing those family members left behind. A comparison of the day to day life of the child when compared to his contemporaries in other settings is bleak. Yet one can not help but admire him for his spirit and his survival skills.
When this middle school age boy says goodbye to his close girl friend, with whom he shares a wonderfully innocent friendship, at the beginning of the summer vacation, she surprises him by sharing her feelings for him. Her feelings very closely mirror his; however he has previously felt too shy to articulate them.
There are some violent parts in this book that would most probably keep me from seeing it as a movie.
I felt that this book started rather slowly. The hero spends alot of time explaining the meaning of words and phrases that are probably needed to develop the story. When the story line began to develop, I was hooked.
This narrative comes through as an authentic story voiced by an authentic 11-year old boy, a new immigrant from Ghana to England. The problem is immediately evident that 11 year old boys aren't very interesting, and once you get past his cutesy misunderstandings about sex ("she talks about all the boys she's sucked off - that means really hard kissing") and the world of grown ups in Africa and the UK, and his precious take on British slang, you are left with the monotonous stories of schoolboy life in urban England, as told by a child with limited means of expression. The accent, as provided by actress Bahni Turpin, seems genuine and is easily understood, but the story goes around and around. At the center is a murder, but that is barely touched on for half the book, and barely makes it as an excuse for having written the book in the first place. On the edges of this urban life is an actual pigeon, whose infrequent observations are also voiced by the same reader -- not a good idea. The whole "pigeon" thing doesn't work, and as a device to play on the phrase "pidgin English" was a poor choice.
Pigeon English is a decent narration of a terrible story and does not measure up to the publisher review. The dialect is interesting and the rest is just dreadful. Save your credits for a better story, with better characters, and something to offer besides the occasional turn of phrase.
difficult to get into. not my favorite style of literature. i could compare this book to 'a tree grows in brooklyn' for the style of the story, except this book is full of foul language.
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