What they say: A BIG story about a small boy who sees the world a little differently
Milo curled his thumb and forefinger together to make a small hole and held his fingers up to Al’s eyes. ‘Look through here. That’s what I see. Kind of, only worse.’
‘Wow, that must be amazing.’
Milo shrugged. ‘Not really.’
‘I mean, it makes you focus, doesn’t it? I bet you see all kinds of stuff that other people miss.’
Nine-year-old Milo Moon has retinitis pigmentosa: his eyes are slowly failing and he will eventually go blind. But for now he sees the world through a pin hole and notices things other people don’t. When Milo’s beloved gran succumbs to dementia and moves into a nursing home, Milo soon realises there’s something wrong at the home. So with just Tripi, the nursing home’s cook, and Hamlet, his pet pig, to help, Milo sets out on a mission to expose the nursing home and the sinister Nurse Thornhill.
Insightful, wise and surprising, What Milo Saw is filled with big ideas and simple truths. Milo sees the world in a very special way and it will be impossible for you not to fall in love with him and then share his story with everyone you know.
The Review: Our story begins with Milo, who sees it as his duty to look after his Gran, who has not spoken in years, and whose health is failing, and is mother to Milo’s father, who is not around. The relationship between Milo and his Gran is perfect, their bond maintained by the little pen and pad his Gran uses to communicate with. Milo’s mother, however, is struggling with her husband’s absense, and there is a great deal of tension in the house. Following a fire, Gran leaves to go to a retirement home, Forget me not homes, while Milo pines for her and awaits the day she will return.
Retirement homes are a huge source of fear, the fact the most vulnerable in society could possibly be in places where they are not seen as human beings any more, they are a way to make money. The things that Milo ‘sees’ etch little holes in your heart. It’s the way you’re told, the things that aren’t said. The book is heavy with the realisation that children see so much more than adults do.
We see early on that Nurse Thornhill from Forget Me Not homes sees the occupants purely as a source of income. From the start she is a vivid character, almost like someone from a Roald Dahl book, who looks ‘like a skeleton: tall and sharp and bony’ and who ‘didn’t look at all like she sounded on the phone.’
In terms of characters, there’s many, the inhabitants of the home are all very different, and quite memorable, driving home the fact that they are not machines, they are people. Milo’s friend, Tripi, a Syrian chef who was working in the home under difficult conditions, both in the home and outside of it. Their friendship is gold and again drives home difficult circumstances that force people into choices that they would not normally make. Milo’s mother is further proof of this. A special mention to Milo’s uncle who turns up unexpectedly and helps Milo in his quest to show the home for what it really is.
But it’s Milo’s gran who steals the show for me, a wonderful, warm, selfless, beautiful woman who carries on despite the blows dealt to her.
There are some books that really touch you, this is one of those. At present I am thinking of moments that could easily make me cry and other moments that would just as easily make me smile. The story telling is second to none, brilliantly narrated, allowing each main character a turn of their point of view.
A lot of the reviews on this started by coupling this story with The Curious Incident of The Dog at Night Time by Mark Haddon and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamus by John Boyne. It was an obvious comparison, all revolve around a boy, the most important part of the story is dictated (thought not necessarily narrated) by said boy, all are vulnerable in ways that they either don’t realise or else don’t allow to get in the way of their ultimate mission, and all could be read by nearly any age group, they are easy to read yet genius enough that any adult can learn buckets from them. I will finish by telling you that this book will hopefully continue to be spoken of in the same sentence as the above two books, and will become as well known and widely read as them too. I also hope this author continues to bring out gems such as this and becomes very well known for doing so. Thanks to Virginia Macgregor, Little, Brown Book Group, Sphere and Netgalley for this book in return for an honest review.
Rating: 5/5 Dare I say it? One for the Christmas list;)
Note: Please excuse shoddy picture, this computer is not my friend at the moment.