Friday, September 14, 2012
What I've been reading lately
Book description (from Amazon)-
Newly arrived from Ghana with his mother and older sister, eleven-year-old Harrison Opoku lives on the ninth floor of a block of flats on an inner-city housing estate. The second best runner in the whole of Year 7, Harri races through his new life in his personalised trainers - the Adidas stripes drawn on with marker pen - blissfully unaware of the very real threat all around him. With equal fascination for the local gang - the Dell Farm Crew - and the pigeon who visits his balcony, Harri absorbs the many strange elements of his new life in England: watching, listening, and learning the tricks of urban survival. But when a boy is knifed to death on the high street and a police appeal for witnesses draws only silence, Harri decides to start a murder investigation of his own. In doing so, he unwittingly endangers the fragile web his mother has spun around her family to try and keep them safe. A story of innocence and experience, hope and harsh reality, Pigeon English is a spellbinding portrayal of a boy balancing on the edge of manhood and of the forces around him that try to shape the way he falls.
I really enjoyed this book. I read a review and someone said that the publishers had missed a trick, that it shouldn't be an adult book, but be pushed into schools. I don't know if I agree. It has a child's voice, similar to 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time', but I don't think that necessarily means it should be for young-adults (Room wasn't). I guess the reason why it may not be selected as a course book in schools or promoted as young-adult reading is because of the often 'bad' (or colloquial) language .
Saying that, the playful language used by Harri, his sister and other characters, is so important, showing how they were flung into this new life in the estate and they are still trying to make sense of it all and follow the rules of the estate; 'asweh' (I swear), 'Gowayou' (Go away, you) etc.
It didn't take me long to like Harri, the voice of the book. He is caring and loving, wants to please his family and wants to be liked by his peers. He is funny and innocent (the passages about his 'bo-styles' Diadora trainers that he got from the Cancer shop, made me giggle) and that makes the novel a memorable and enjoyable one.
I didn't really get the passages with the conversations with the pigeon, possibly just showing how lonely Harri was in his new home. I skimmed these to be honest.
I would recommend this book. It shows the harsh realities of the gang cultures in estates contrasted with the young, playful and innocent characters. It was gripping, but remained a light read.