Thursday, July 16, 2015

Close to the Wind (2015)

Close to the Wind. Jon Walter. 2015. Scholastic. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]

The boy and the old man arrived at the port at night. 

Did I find Close to the Wind a compelling read? Yes, for the most part. Notice I didn't exactly say enjoyable! Close to the Wind is a book about war refugees, mainly orphans, but also some families wealthy enough to pay for a ticket out of the country. The setting? The year? I'd like to know these myself. But the truth is the author has not given readers any context for placing Close to the Wind in the real world. It could be any country, any war, any year. Or almost any.

Malik is our young narrator. There is much Malik doesn't understand or grasp that readers may pick up on much sooner. For example, his grandfather's lies. His grandfather loves him very, very much. That's not in question, but, instead of telling the young boy that he just honestly doesn't know what happened to his daughter--Malik's mother--he makes up a pleasant-sounding story about how they will meet up with her right before getting on board the ship that will take them to a much better country. The boy isn't worried about getting on board, about how they will get tickets, about money issues at all really. He's placed all his trust in his grandfather who seems to be more than capable. But readers see some vulnerability. The grandfather IS worried.

Malik is a young boy that is easy to care about. And his grandfather, well, he's a good man willing to do anything for his grandson. The book is very ugly in places--showing the desperation of the times. I personally wish for more context. But even without it, this one is a compelling read.  

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Ann Summerville said...

It's annoying when questions aren't answered. I have read several books where it's taken me some time to find out where the setting is and what time period and I find I miss a lot of the plot.

Ms. Yingling said...

This fell on the annoying side of the line for me. If readers are going to spend a lot of effort to try to descern setting, why not just pin one down? That would take research, I suppose, and accuracy.