The day the First World War broke out, Alfie Summerfield's father promised he wouldn't go away to fight - but he broke that promise the following day. Four years later, Alfie doesn't know where his father might be, other than that he's away on a special, secret mission. Then, while shining shoes at King's Cross Station, Alfie unexpectedly sees his father's name on a sheaf of papers belonging to a military doctor. Bewildered and confused, Alfie realizes his father is in a hospital close by - a hospital treating soldiers with shell shock. Alfie isn't sure what shell shock is, but he is determined to rescue his father from this strange, unnerving place….
©2013 John Boyne (P)2014 Macmillan Audio
Alfie Summerfield’s fifth birthday happens on the day of the announcement of the First World War, old enough to remember – young enough not to understand the weight. Alfie’s father enlists but before long the tone of the letters from his father changes and eventually they stop arriving. As he gets older and the war drone on, Alfie has resigned himself that his father has died in the war even though they have not received one of the dreaded military visits. Though snooping and a coincidence of fate, Alfie learns the truth. Not one to burden his mother, he takes it upon him to restore his family to how he remembers it when times were better.
The main story of the Summerfield’s is not the only casualty of this war that is told. I found the constant living on the edge, the tale of the conscientious objector, the reminder of life before indoor plumbing equally interesting.
I found this book to be well writing, the story interesting and the characters engaging. I have added John Boyne to my list of enjoyed authors. Euan Morton did a perfect job in narration.
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