Book Review- Flamingo Boy

Saturday, 12 May 2018
Title: Flamingo Boy
Author: Michael Morpurgo
Published: 19th February 2018
Pages: 352
Genre: Children's, Historical Fiction

Rating: 4/5

A stunning new classic from master storyteller Michael Morpurgo for readers of 9+, in the vein of PRIVATE PEACEFUL and THE BUTTERFLY LION
This is a landmark new novel form the nation's favourite storyteller, set in the unique landscape of the Camargue in the South of France during WW2. There, a young autistic boy lives on his parents' farm among the salt flats, and the flamingos that live there. There are lots of things he doesn't understand: but he does know how to heal animals. He loves routine, and music too: and every week he goes to market with his mother, to ride his special horse on the town carousel.
But then the Germans come, with their guns, and take the town. A soldier shoots a flamingo from the sky, and it falls to earth terribly injured. And even worse is to come: the carousel is damaged, the horses broken. For this vulnerable boy, everything is falling apart.
Only there's a kind sergeant among the Germans – a man with a young boy of his own at home, a man who trained as a carpenter. Between them, perhaps boy and man can mend what has been broken – and maybe even the whole town… -Goodreads

I received this novel from Net Galley and Harper Collins UK in return for an honest review.
This is the story of an 18 year old boy called Vincent, who travels to Southern France in the footsteps of his namesake Vincent van Gogh to visit the site where Van Gogh painted one of his favourite pictures. While he is in the South of France he meets an elderly man and women, Kezia and Lorenzo, who take him into their home when he falls in. Kezia tells Vincent the story of their childhood, how they became to live together, and how Lorenzo became the Flamingo Boy.
So although this novel begins in the 21st century and is narrated by Vincent, the majority of this novel takes place during WWII. This is quite a common setting for Morpurgo, my favourite novels from him are all set during WWI or WWII, and this novel doesn’t disappoint. Morpurgo writes such clear and calm descriptions of WWII in this novel, he manages to get across the sheer depravity of the actions carried out, and the strength and humanity displayed by many who fought against the Nazis. Morpurgo does this in a consise way which makes it simple to understand for younger children, yet still detailed enough to create a story, and fuel the plotline, and with enough clarity that none of the gravitas of what happened is lost.
As per usual, Morpurgo’s storytelling is masterful. His ability to make stories personal, to give tragedies and huge historic events a human face and to give insight into the individual tales that make up the event is a skill that Morpurgo does better than most. He writes such beautifully powerful and moving novels that are predominantly aimed at children, but appeal just as strongly to adults.
Morpurgo always writes wonderful characters, and this novel is no different. Lorenzo, the Flamingo Boy is my particular favourite in this novel. He is described as having Autism in the blurb, and he sees the world in a slightly different way to the way everyone else does. He is so carefully and sensitively written by Morpurgo, and he is genuinely a lovely character. I really liked the relationship between Lorenzo and Kezia, it definitely added to my enjoyment of the novel, and was an integral part of the plot in general.
This is probably one of the less emotionally draining Morpurgo novels that I have read. I am used to crying a great deal when I read any of Morpurgo’s novels, and I was preparing myself mentally and physically for tears, but this novel wasn’t quite there for me. Perhaps because this novel ends with a lovely happy ending, but whatever the reason, I just felt there was a bit of emotion and sadness missing from this novel.
Overall I really enjoyed this novel. I love Michael Morpurgo’s novels, and although this one isn’t quite up there with War Horse and Private Peaceful for me, it is still an excellent Morpurgo novel, and I would recommend it to children and adults alike.

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