Pigeon English was selected as one of the Waterstone’s 11 and I loved the sample section that I tried.
The book is set in London where 11-year-old Harri has recently arrived from Ghana with his mother and older sister. A boy is stabbed to death on their estate, but police enquiries meet a wall of silence so Harri decides to start his own investigation into the murder.
Pigeon English has been compared to Room, but the only similarity is that they both have a child narrator. The difference between the innocence of a five-year-old and the insecurities of a pre-teen means that the two narrators are worlds apart.
Harri was an engaing character and I loved some of his observations about our society, but unfortunately the writing style began to grate on me as I progressed further into the book. The play-like layout of the text ruined the flow of the narrative for me, giving it a jumpy feel.
I also found that the mind of an eleven-year-old boy held little interest for me. I’m sure that it is all very realistic, but the immature banter made me cringe.
I’m afraid that the book went even further downhill with the introduction of the talking pigeon. I’m sure that fans of magical realism will love this touch, but I’m afraid that it didn’t work for me.
Pigeon English is a realistic portrayal of a confused young boy learning to live in a new country. It’s an original take on the usual tales of immigration and I loved some of the comic elements, but I’m afraid that the negatives outweighed the positives on this occasion.
The thoughts of other bloggers:
…a decent, contemporary and original report on innocence and its loss. Asylum
…as the story advanced it became more confused, and it became difficult to pick out the important things from the more mundane. Fleur Fisher in her World
I just found it unrealistic for him to be so repetitive, simple-minded and was often frustrated by the lack of direction in the story. Monniblog