Monday, September 15, 2014

All About Middle Grade Review: Stay Where You Are & Then Leave

Stay Where You Are & Then Leave by John Boyne, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, March 25, 2014. 247 pages. Published by  Henry Holt and Co. (BYR). Source: publisher.
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. . . .
First Sentence:
Every night, before he went to sleep, Alfie Summerfield tried to remember how life had been before the war began.

Stay Where You Are & Then Leave was perfection and tore my heart into teeny, tiny pieces. I don't say this lightly, but John Boyne's book, my first of his, was beautiful and haunting; so glad that I just read it without reading the synopsis.

I am seriously not all that sure how to begin reviewing John Boyne's latest book, Stay Where You Are & Then Leave because the circumstances within the book-that of the beginning of WWI and the impact it had on Alfie and his family is just so huge. From the very first page, the author's writing style and ability to capture such emotion pulled me in. I'm not one to get swept away in an emotional sense when it comes to reading yet I found myself so absorbed in the lives of the characters and their individual stories that I couldn't help becoming attached to them. So, yeah, if an author's writing can effect me in such a way that I, one who doesn't cry easily, then you know that they did their job on creating an emotionally stirring story with well thought out characters and plot-line.

So, what is it about this book that struck me in the heart, well, it would be the setting and the story of Alfie's life during the first World War. It was heartbreaking to see the hardships that he and his family, as well, as those who live don his street, suffered through as the was dragged on-and-on. While the story is sad, as it should be given the topic it covers, I thought the author did one amazing job capturing the voice of Alfie and his struggle to help provide, covertly, for his mother and his need to know whether or not his father still lived.
Days have gone by since I finished Stay Where You Are & Then Leave and I still cannot get John Boyne's writing out of my head. If you like realistic historical fiction that just so happens to pull at the heartstrings, then this is one book that I cannot recommend enough. It is beautiful and haunting as the author explores the homefront situation during the first World War.

Final Verdict: Stay Where You Are & Then Leave- A hauntingly beautiful book about war and the effects it has on those left at home.

Stay Where You Are & Then Leave earns
This book was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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