Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Close To The Wind by Jon Walter

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The boy and the old man arrived at the port at night.
There had been cloud in the sky but now the moon shone brightly and they stood in the shadow cast by a row of terraced cottages that lined a cobbled street, polished through the years by wheels and feet and the hooves of horses.
The boy held the old man’s hand.
Published by David Fickling Books in July  2014
Pages – 298
Malik's mother has been missing for days, his home has become unrecognisable, and his grandfather is insisting that they leave on the next and final ship: The Samaritan. This journey will take them to a country which promises safety and a new life. The only problem is, they don't have a ticket, and people are stopping at nothing to get a place on board. Luckily Papa has a secret that could change everything. But who can they trust to help them?
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One of the things that I liked most about this book was the fact that it was difficult to pinpoint a time or place in which the events took place. I knew that Malik was fleeing from a war torn country and I had suspicions that the story was set during during World War 2, but this information was never disclosed, giving the book a timeless feel to it. It really could have been set at any time as nothing felt like it dated it.This alone shows the skills of a clever author.
Nothing overly dramatic really happens in this book and yet, you are sucked into the story straightaway. The author’s voice captures your imagination and writes in such a detailed manner, that you find it difficult to pull yourself away from the book. You desperately want Malik to be able to return to his home and be with his mother again.
If I was to pinpoint any themes in this book, I think they would be loyalty and survival. Malik is willing to give away one of his most treasured positions to right the wrong that was committed against his grandfather. Oksar and Stephan’s loyalty, showed that they would rather risk losing the opportunity of living with a new family than losing each other. From a survival perspective, Malik’s grandfather is willing to risk his own life in order to spare his grandson from the unknown and unstable future of his country.
There were scenes in the book that worried me. I was convinced for a huge part of the story that I would have to go through that whole Manchee scenario again that I struggled with in The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. There were tense moments where Malik had to show true courage and maturity for such a young child. The atmosphere on the ship was so well written, I could feel how stifling conditions must have been.
I do have one niggle about the book. The ending seemed to go on longer than necessary for me. Once Malik was off the boat, I expected perhaps another incident to occur, only it didn’t. So I find myself pondering whether the majority of Part Three was actually necessary.
However, this did not affect my overall enjoyment of the book. The descriptive language and the young hero made this book a beautiful read.

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