An unusual combination of the light-hearted and serious which works thanks to likeable characters and accessible writing. 4/5 stars.
The blurb: Nine-year-old Milo Moon has retinitis pigmentosa: his eyes are slowly failing and he will eventually go blind. But for now he sees the world through a pin hole and notices things other people don’t. When Milo’s beloved gran succumbs to dementia and moves into a nursing home, Milo soon realises there’s something wrong at the home. So with just Tripi, the nursing home’s cook, and Hamlet, his pet pig, to help, Milo sets out on a mission to expose the nursing home and the sinister Nurse Thornhill.
I enjoy stories narrated from multiple point-of-views (particularly in the third person). A great strength of What Milo Saw is that we don’t only get Milo’s twelve-year-old and partially-sighted take on events. Instead, his more immature world-view is nicely balanced by those of some of the adults in the story. And I’m delighted that this book features several characters in their seventies and eighties who are portrayed as complex people with their own needs and desires rather mere “story filler” or token “wise counsellors” to younger characters.
Milo is excellently drawn. He’s a sweet, caring kid, but he’s far from perfect. And while we feel for him, suffering as he does with encroaching blindness and upsetting family events, there are also times when I itched to give him a sharp talking to. In other words, he comes across as a real child 🙂
This book does tackle some serious and sad issues, particularly the abandonment and mistreatment of the elderly, and the war in Syria and the resulting refugee crisis. However, the more sombre moments are interspersed with more comedic or light-hearted episodes, many of which revolve around Milo’s pet pig, Hamlet.
And, I can say to reassure you, without spoiling anything, that everything turns out ok in the end. More or less.
I didn’t feel I could give the book 5 stars, mainly because I enjoyed the first half far more than the second. I felt the story seemed to trail off or lose momentum.
Overall: an enjoyable book which tackles some serious issues without ever becoming melancholic. Some great characters and clear writing lift this book above average. I look forward to reading more books by Virginia Macgregor in the future!
Claire Huston / Art and Soul