Ahoy and avast, ye shelf-lubbers! Today I have a book for grown ups, told from the perspective of two of my favourite fleshling-types: children and old people. Actually, it’s told from multiple points of view, but we’ll get to that later. And before I go any further, allow me to remind you that Fiction in 50 for July will be going live on Mondayand this month’s prompt will be…
To find out more, just click on that attractive button over there. We’d love to have you play along!
Now, back to business – today’s offering is What Milo Saw by Virginia MacGregor.
Nine-year-old Milo suffers from retinitis pigmentosa, which causes him to see the world as if looking through a pinhole. But Milo often spots things that others miss. When Milo’s beloved Gran moves out of their home and into Forget-Me-Not nursing home, it seems that Milo is the only one that can see how Nurse Thornhill mistreats the patients. With his mother reeling from the recent, girlfriend-and-new-baby laden departure of his father, the only one Milo can rely on is his pet pig, Hamlet. Then Milo meets Tripi, a Syrian refugee and the cook at Forget-Me-Not, and things start looking up. As Milo digs deeper into the scandal at the nursing home, he will need all the help he can get to expose Nurse Thornhill and her brutal ways and save the day – as well as saving his Gran.
* you believe pigs (and elderly Grans) are for life, not just for Christmas
* you’ve ever wondered why nursing home patrons never look like they’re having any fun
* you’ve ever found a new friend in a very unlikely place
* you thoroughly enjoy stories in which old people get to break free from the shackles of advanced age and live a little
I seem to be bringing you a lot of books with elderly protagonists lately – and why not, I say! I love them, generally (the books that is, not necessarily the old people. That’s on a case by case basis). What Milo Saw is a one part mystery, one part humour, and one part relationship novel with beguiling characters who are all handicapped by their situation in one way or another. Milo has a problem with his eyesight, Gran’s mind is fading, Sandy (Milo’s mum) is having a hard time after her relationship break-up and Tripi is a refugee with no papers who has left his twelve-year-old sister behind in Syria. As individuals, they have great difficulties overcoming their various problems, but when they start working together, problems seem to be quickly resolved.
I really enjoyed reading this book mostly because of the genuinely likeable characters, but I never got to the point of really loving it. While the plot was reasonably complicated, with the lives of various characters overlapping in interesting ways, the overall telling of the story was somewhat formulaic. I felt that a few of the elements, such as Milo’s eyesight problems and the inclusion of the pig, were a bit contrived and didn’t necessarily add anything to the story overall, apart from a quirky hook in the blurb. Similarly, while the characters were likeable, they were mostly quite two-dimensional.
Nevertheless, despite these niggling issues, the book was a fun, engaging read and had plenty of humour to spark things up. The use of multiple points of view to tell the story also helped my enjoyment of the book, as it allowed for a few twists in the story that would otherwise have been missing.
Overall, I think this would be a great holiday read, or a book for those times when you don’t want to have to work too hard and are looking for something with a bit of heart and humour. What Milo Saw is due to be released on July 29th.
Until next time (get those Fi50 ideas churning!),