Thursday, September 20, 2012

Shadow by Michael Morpurgo

After fleeing from Afghanistan and living six years in England, Aman and his mother are being held in a detention center and threatened with deportation back to Afghanistan.  Aman's best friend Matt isn't allowed in to visit, so he sends his grandfather, a retired journalist.  Aman tells Matt's grandfather the story of his and his mother's flight from Afghanistan, and the dog that helped them.

I did not find myself emotionally connecting to anyone in the story.  I'm not totally sure why.  Aman's life was very difficult, and what he and his mother had to endure, both leaving Afghanistan and in the detention center, was terrible and sad.  But for whatever reason it was like reading a newspaper article.  The characters never became actual people.  Maybe because the book was so short, and it really just focused on telling the story, not developing the characters.  The story was important, but it lacked a human connection.

Also, Shadow seemed to hurt Aman and his mother much more than she helped!  It was lucky they'd met her and Sergeant Brodie in the end, but Shadow got them into an awful lot of trouble!

Everything seemed to get tied up pretty neatly at the end.  Just when it seems like all hope is lost, Sergeant Brodie shows up and easily saves the day.  And what about the little girl that Matt's grandpa was so struck by in the detention center?  What about her?  I thought it wasn't just about Aman, it was about all the children being held.  It was nice (and lucky) for Aman that he had a special relationship with a US solider, and that that US solider had enough pull to stop him and his mother from getting deported, but what about the others who are being unfairly held?

Maybe I'm just suppose to think about how this is a nice story about a boy and his dog, and how ultimately the dog saved him twice.

If you're scratching your head and wondering where you've heard Michael Morpurgo's name before, he's the author of War Horse.

Shadow comes out September 30, 2012.

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