Review Detail

Kids Fiction 2498
Slow to Start But Moving Portrayal of the Effects of War
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
3.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
What I Liked:
Putting it all out there, I actually really struggled with this book in the beginning. It’s slow-moving, not particularly character-driven, and there’s something about the narrative style that just made me feel sort off somehow. One hundred pages in, I was toying with DNFing, not because it’s bad—it’s not—but because I wasn’t engaged. Then I realized I was almost halfway through and decided to push on through to the other side. And you know what? I’m glad that I did. The second half of the book moves a bit faster, because Alfie’s older and actually doing things.

Stay Where You Are and Then Leave starts on Alfie’s fifth birthday, which also happens to be the day that WWI begins. Needless to say, there have been better birthdays. Alfie’s dad enlists on that first day, overwhelmed with patriotism and a need to “do his bit.” The story pretty much just covers Alfie being five and then jumps to age nine, during which time Alfie opens up a shoeshine stand in the train station to help his mom earn money and learns about the secret of what happened to his dad.

Part of what didn’t work for me also made Stay Where You Are and Then Leave really special. Alfie’s the main character in that he’s in every scene, but it’s omniscient narration and the book is more about what happens around Alfie than about him. Like, the bulk of the scenes hardly involve Alfie at all; he’s overhearing conversations or witnessing something or listening to someone talk while he shines their shoes. Usually, a middle grade book is about a personal journey of growing up, but Stay Where You Are and Then Leave is more atmospheric, capturing a picture of the war’s impact on one little boy.

Through Alfie’s convenient location at the train station, Boyne is able to acquaint the reader with a lot of experiences through a young kid. As he shines their shoes, men unload their stories, their troubles. Alfie also witnesses numerous disturbances in the neighborhood, like the rough treatment of Joe Patience, a conscientious objector and the Janá?eks, of Hungarian origin. In fact, these story lines were perhaps most compelling to me, since they’re covering bits of WWI history I didn’t really know about. The way women would give any men who looked like they should be at war feathers to shame them? Wow.

Then there’s the Janá?eks. Kalena is a girl and his best friend. Her father runs a shop. When the war breaks out, they’re shipped off by the government under suspicion as spies, even though they’re not German. Kalena was even born in the US, but they’re apparently not to be trusted. I knew that stuff like that happened in WWII, but I had no idea there was that level of anti-German and -Hungarian sentiment during the first World War.

What Left Me Wanting More:
Boyne ultimately focuses on both the effects of the outbreak of the war and the end of it as well. He puts a focus on the fact that, though a number of men do make it back alive, and maybe even uninjured physically, that doesn’t mean they’re well. The traumas of war are myriad, and Boyne conveys this well, without actually diving into anything gruesome or violent. So, basically, I think Boyne does something very cool, but the style sort of lessened my personal enjoyment at the same time.

The Final Verdict:
Ultimately, I’m glad that I read Stay Where You Are and Then Leave, though it got off to a slow start. Boyne looks at WWI through a very unique lens, and if that is something that interests you, then it’s well worth checking out.
Report this review Was this review helpful to you? 2 0

Comments

Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

The Cousins
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of One...
A Curse of Roses
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
Based on Portuguese legend, this #OwnVoices historical fantasy is an...
I Don't Want to Wash my Hands!
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
From beloved children's author and illustrator Tony Ross, comes a...
Dance Like a Leaf
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
As her grandmother's health declines, a young girl begins to...
The Bitterwine Oath
 
3.3 (2)
 
0.0 (0)
San Solano, Texas, is a quaint town known for...
Sing Like No One's Listening
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
A moving YA debut about a talented young singer...
Heiress Apparently (Daughters of the Dynasty, #1)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
The first book in an epic and romantic YA...
The Good Girls
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
One of Us Is Lying meets Sadie in this...
Frozen 2: Dangerous Secrets: The Story of Iduna and Agnarr
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
Sixteen-year-old Iduna harbors a dark secret. On the surface,...
The Camelot Betrayal
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
The second book in a new fantasy trilogy from...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Every summer, they say goodbye. Dorit goes to Tel Aviv...
Incredible Animals
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
In this illustrated guide, discover fascinating and unusual information about...
Special Delivery
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
A lovely book to share with children in an expecting...
Eyelike Stickers: Trains
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Hundreds of irresistible, reusable, and collectible stickers to mix, match,...
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
It is twenty years since the events of La Belle...
Winter Light
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
WINTER LIGHT is the story of 15-year-old Mary Donahue...

Latest Member Reviews

The Cousins
 
5.0
"THE COUSINS is a highly devourable and engaging family drama/mystery. The Story family is very wealthy, running a bunch of..."
A Curse of Roses
 
3.7
"A CURSE OF ROSES is an intriguing YA historical fantasy based on a Portuguese legend. The book tackles themes of..."
Speechless
 
4.7
"this story is amazing! i have a project for honors english 10, and this is a great story to chose..."
The Bitterwine Oath
 
3.3
"THE BITTERWINE OATH is a YA fantasy and light horror read. Nat is the descendent of the girl who put..."
 
4.3
"If your expecting the same type of books that you’ve been reading in this series, you’d be wrong. This whole..."
The Kinder Poison
 
5.0
"From start to finish I absolutely adored this story. The opening scene was so much fun to read while Zahru..."
Heiress Apparently (Daughters of the Dynasty, #1)
 
5.0
"HEIRESS APPARENTLY is a YA rom-com with deep themes that make it such an engaging and captivating read. Gemma is..."
The Good Girls
 
4.0
"THE GOOD GIRLS is an enthralling read. The book begins after the disappearance and seeming murder of the police chief's..."
All our Hidden Gifts
 
4.0
"Maeve finds a pack of tarot cards while cleaning out a closet at her school. What starts off as curiosity,..."
Frozen 2: Dangerous Secrets: The Story of Iduna and Agnarr
 
4.7
"DANGEROUS SECRETS: THE STORY OF IDUNA AND AGNARR is a great MG/YA fantasy romance. Based on Frozen, this book tells..."
Hot British Boyfriend
 
4.0
"When Ellie is completely humiliated by her best friend an crush, she decides the best way to escape her jeering..."
The Camelot Betrayal (Camelot Rising, #2)
 
4.7
"THE CAMELOT BETRAYAL continues Guinevere's story as she seeks to find her footing in a world that keeps throwing her..."
Loveboat, Taipei
 
4.7
"WHAT I LOVED: Ever’s pushy parents have already gotten their way by making her apply to medical school, but..."
The Mermaid, The Witch, and the Sea
 
5.0
"THE MERMAID, THE WITCH, AND THE SEA is a lush, beautiful, and romantic fantasy that follows Flora, now living as..."
Super Fake Love Song
 
4.3
"SUPER FAKE LOVE SONG is a YA contemporary romance about siblings, feeling like an outcast, and friendship. Sunny definitely feels..."
The Companion
 
5.0
"Margot is the survivor of a devastating accident in which her entire family drowns in their car. She is taken..."
How It All Blew Up
 
4.3
"Amir is an Iranian American teenager who is gay and in the closet. When another student blackmails him about his..."
Skyhunter (Skyhunter, #1)
 
5.0
"I really enjoyed Skyhunter, another winner from Marie Lu. Talin is a refugee and is mute. She is a Striker,..."
Now That I've Found You
 
4.0
"Evie is a young actress living in L.A. and has a legacy to live up to. Her parents are famous..."
Clown in a Cornfield
 
3.3
"When Quinn and her father move to a tiny town, she's hoping to fit in and finish high school. Kettle..."