Title: Stay Where You Are & Then Leave
Author: John Boyne
Recommended for: Grades 3 thru 8
Call Number/Link: J FICTION BOYNE, J.
Synopsis: 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. While shining shoes at King’s Cross Station, 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.
MINOR SPOILER ALERT AT THE END!
Alfie’s journey from an innocent 5 year-old to a 9 year-old child of the war is very interesting. In some ways he has become wise beyond his years, and in other ways he is very much a young child. His desire to help support his mother is very mature, as is the way he decides to do it. His determination to find his father and bring him home is admirable but unrealistic. This book might be a challenge for some kids because it mentions things that would be unknown here due to the different country in which the story occurs and the time period. It discusses conscientious objectors and internment and touches on the horrors of war. I did find it interesting, and I would recommend it as realistic fiction. But I think, from an adult perspective, the ending was too easy and not realistic. Sometimes you cannot wrap up all the loose ends in a nice little package. It just doesn’t ring true.