Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Review: Close to the Wind by Jon Walter

Publisher: David Fickling Books
Format: Hardcover / eBook
Released: July 3rd, 2014
Rating: 8.5/10

Amazon summary:

There's a ship down at the dock. There are places for a few, but not many. If you have enough money and know the right people, you might get a ticket. Or you might not. 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? 


David Fickling Books have just launched their brand new list as an independent publisher, and they've certainly kicked it off in a grand style befitting the calibre of books they publish. Close to the Wind is a brilliant, well-written debut novel with memorable characters and important themes and issues running through every page, and I enjoyed it so much I want to read it again!

Ten-year-old Malik and his grandfather must leave their home as refugees and get on the final ship to leave, which will take them far away to a better life. Malik's mother hasn't been seen for days, there's violence and crimes being committed and the place they live is unrecognisable - it's not safe to stay there and there's only one way out. Malik's grandfather holds the key to their escape, but can he do what's necessary to get them out of danger?

Malik and Papa are both fantastic people who possess a wealth of attributes and characteristics that most of us can only dream of having. They're both brave, thoughtful and selfless, doing whatever is necessary to secure safe passage on the ship. Papa makes some difficult decisions, surrenders his trust too easily and occasionally loses his rag with Malik's unending questions, but he's a good man and one who will do anything for the people he loves. His own well-being takes a backseat where his family is concerned, and that's the best part of him and his personality. Malik is completely different mostly because of his young age, but he too is braver than any boy should have to be and is also fast on his feet and a quick thinker. Malik reminded me of Bruno from The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas because of his innocence and faith in humanity, though by the end of the novel his outlook and understanding of the world has changed, therefore changing himself too.

The location of Close to the Wind is never disclosed, instead leaving the reader to imagine where it is and what's happening in the general vicinity to drive everyone away. Malik and Papa seem awfully close to being caught up in a revolt of some nature, which is why it's imperative they leave, though it's never clear exactly what is going on. I actually really like that author Jon Walter has been so ambiguous with what he revealed; it leaves so much to the imagination and involves the reader more than they initially think.

Close to the Wind is a book that I wasn't too fussed about reading at first, but my love of David Fickling Books made me pick it up, read it and ultimately end up loving it. Jon Walter has crafted a fine story of what it means to be human, how a changing world doesn't mean the end of all things and that life must go on even in the face of immeasurable loss. I really can't wait to see what he writes next.

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