Morpurgo (War Horse) fuses the devastation of war, anguish of the refugee experience, pain of losing loved ones, healing power of friendship, and redemptive influence of a dog's loyalty in this multifaceted novel, first published in 2010. The author also effectively balances three narrators: Matt, an earnest British 14-year-old; his best friend Aman, who escaped to England from Taliban-occupied Afghanistan six years earlier and is now awaiting deportation; and Matt's compassionate grandfather, who uses his skills as a journalist to fight Aman's deportation. Aman's flashbacks to life under the Taliban (who killed his father, imprisoned and tortured his mother, and blew up his home) and to his arduous flight to England with his mother make up the novel's most harrowing passages. At its emotional core, though, is Aman's relationship with Shadow, a remarkably intuitive spaniel with a surprising past that wanders into his family's cave in Afghanistan and guides Aman during their escape. Despite many sobering plot elements, the novel's subject matter never overwhelms Morpurgo's streamlined storytelling and subtle characterizations. Ages 10–14. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 10/22/2012 Release date: 09/01/2012 Genre: Children's
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