If you are looking for a break from the current glut of dystopia novels than check out What Milo Saw by Virginia MacGregor, which is a heart-warming and engaging story centred around 9-year-old Milo.

Despite suffering from an eye disease which has left him with only pinhole sight, his depth of vision of the world around him exceeds that of the adults whom surround him.

As his gran, Lou, is put into a nursing home by his struggling mother only Milo can see the suffering and criminal acts carried out by Nurse Thornhill. Along with his pet pig, Hamlet, Milo sets out to expose the nursing home ‘Forget Me Not’ and free his gran from the misery.

Hamlet is a wonderfully crafted animal-character and I never imaged a pig would worm its way into my heart. Lovingly close to Milo’s gran, he snuggles next to Lou to keep her warm, raises the alarm in face of danger. Initially bought by his now absent father, Hamlet became Milo’s life-saver following his diagnosis about his eyes and impending blindness.

Alone to start with, Milo’s naive assumption that he can make a difference helps him to develop some unusual allies.

One is Al, the undercover journalist and also a relation. Al refuses to pander to Milo’s disability rather empowering him with advice on how to gather evidence.

To me more interesting is Tripi, a Syrian refugee who works as a chef at the nursing home and is astounded by the cultural differences compared to those in his country regarding the treatment of elderly relatives.

The story is bang up to date with the inclusion of Tripi, saved from certain death in Syria and now living and working (illegally) in the UK.

Tripi is initially an unwilling ally to young Milo, who helps him not only with accommodation away from the park bench but also helps him in his efforts to seek out his long lost sister. Tripi’s overwhelming sorrow is losing his sister as they fled Syria and he does not know whether she is alive or dead.  With a few deft sentences Virginia MacGregor captures the warmth and exotic nature of Tripi’s former life in Syria; my senses were awakened through the descriptions of the food and country.

Sandy, Milo’s mother, gradually develops from a rather stereotypical overworked single mother to one facing much more complex issues and with time the empathy and understanding for her grows as she herself adjusts to the truth of her situation and becomes aware of her own emerging strength and independence.

Each chapter of the book is written through the viewpoint of one of the main characters. Although in the third-person this is still a very personable and individualistic approach that works well throughout and brings the story neatly towards its resolution.

This touching book is simpler than many in this cross-over genre of fiction / YA, with a relatively uncomplicated sub-plot.

However, I thoroughly enjoyed the softer tones of the book, not squirming from the injustices of life, the difficulties of relationships, living life with a disability. I fell for the warmth and innocent caring spirit of Milo and I will remember him and his eclectic mixture of family and friends (not forgetting Hamlet) long after I finished the book.

Overall I found it an uplifting story and one I would highly recommend.

I received an Advanced Reader Copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.badge_proreader

This review is out later than usual owing to holiday commitments. My apologies.

Publisher: Sphere

Release date: 13th August 2015

Price: £ 3.85 (paperback – Amazon)   £ 4.99 (kindle – Amazon)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

15 thoughts on “WHAT MILO SAW – A BOOK REVIEW

  1. Pingback: THE ASTONISHING RETURN OF NORAH WELLS: A Book Review – Annika Perry's Writing Blog

  2. Such a beautiful and detailed review! I enjoyed reading it and I’m going over to NetGalley right now and requesting this book. Somehow I didn’t do it before because I already have my hands full at the moment but after reading your review, I’m sure I don’t want to miss this one 🙂
    Thanks for such a precise review 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Heena; I’m so glad you liked the review and found it helpful. There never seems to be quite enough time, I agree. Hope you find the odd moment here and there to enjoy this. 😀

    1. Oh, I’d forgotten that one. I so wanted to read and see it when it was popular but then my son was older and in to different books/films. It was endearing how Milo simply believed he could make a difference, without the cynicism that exists so much. So many of the character’s actions were often for the best reasons – their love for their closest ones – but at the same times misguided.

  3. Peter R

    Annika, I think you’ve missed your vocation. You should be an agent. Every one of your reviews would have a publisher reaching for his chequebook. Very persuasively written, and it will be on the Kindle as soon as I catch up on my reading list.

    1. Ahh..thank you Peter but I don’t know about that. It’s fun reviewing the books and I’m lucky in I have been able to choose ones that I think will be interesting and entertaining. I try to be honest and forthright in every review and let the reader decide if it’s for them. Thanks for the lovely comment. Enjoy the book and let me know what you think.

    1. Shakti, I agree that this book does not have a complicated plot but shows the complexity of life and the characters that inhabit it. This is a gentle novel set within the modern world. Thank you for commenting.

    1. Thank you, Diana. The characters won my heart over – the story gently unfurling. I’d been reading a lot of heavy duty exciting story-driven books over the holidays, so this was like a balm on a hectic reading soul.

  4. Mirja

    Such a warm and clear review. You made me feel I already know the charachters
    and I have fallen in love with Milo and his team.
    Thus tempted I clicked the button and have already had it delivered to my Kindle.

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