Alfie Summerfield was turning five. He lived a relatively safe, happy life on Damly Road with his mom, his dad who delivered milk on a horse, his granny who lived across them, and had a best friend (a girl named Kalena whose father owned the local sweet shop).
Word on the streets was that a war would break out. And when it did, people were quick to say that it would be over soon, most probably by Christmas. By that afternoon, men were talking about joining the army.
A day later, Alfie found a soldier standing in their doorway and making his way in hesitatingly.
"But why would a soldier just walk into their living room? he wondered. He hasn't even knocked on the front door! But then the soldier took his hat off and placed it under his arm, and Alfie realized that this wasn't just any soldier and it wasn't a stranger either.
It was Georgie Summerfield.
It was his dad."
Alfie's mom sobbed. Granny Summerfield mumbled over and over, "We're finished." Not long afterwards, Kalena and her father were taken away because they "weren't English."
They'd said the war would be over by Christmas. Only thing was, nobody knew which Christmas.
Four years passed. Alfie, nine, skipped school several days a week to sneak to King's Cross Station. He had started his own shoe-shining business to help his mom (now a nurse who also did laundry for others) to make ends meet. He used to receive letters from his dad, but those had stopped coming for a while.
Mom stuttered an excuse that Dad was on a secret mission, so he couldn't write. But Alfie knew. He knew his dad was dead.
Until one day, while he was polishing shoes for a gentleman, he saw his dad's name on that gentleman's documents.
Could his dad still be alive?
Why couldn't he come home?
I've learned much about how ordinary folks went through war through this middle-grade story, how poor people were, how vulnerable, how some protested against the violence by vowing not to join the army and got scorned at in return, how ladies would walk up to young men right in the middle of the street, smiling and chatty, then producing a white feather and humiliating the young men in front of everyone. (A white feather was given as disdain for those young men who were not fighting for their country and thus deemed cowards.) I learned how most soldiers suffered and could never return to their old selves, and yet there were those who got so carried away by their power they wished the war would never end.
I also learned how sons could risk their lives when their father was in danger.
Has anyone else read this book, or others by John Boyne (who also wrote the world-famous 'The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?' I haven't read this yet but I will soon.)
Share This Post
Grab My Button!
<div align="center"><a href="http://www.carryusoffbooks.com/blog.html" title="CarryUsOff Books" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.weebly.com/uploads/5/6/8/1/5681205/5653609_orig.jpg" alt="CarryUsOff Books" style="border:none;" /></a></div>
Hey, I'm Claudine. Welcome!
Want to know what children's stories can inspire & lead to?
by Kate Hanney
Really enjoyed the honest voice of this narrator ~ a teenager let down by his mother and the foster care system, and almost-picked up through his involvement with a gang.