2014 is the 100th anniversary of World War I (or, The Great War) and this story is build around those times. I was touched to read this one about a boy and his father who is sent for the war and the young lad does all to bring back his father.  The book contains the simplest and most effective blurb that I have even seen and it says it is a book which is about a son, a father, a secret and a train journey.  There are many books that we read but some just linger around for too long. This book falls in the category wherein the sweet taste and the warmth of the words is too good to die down soon.


John Boyne (born 30 April 1971 in Dublin) is an Irish novelist.

Book Review


Isn’t it a beautiful one? Thats dear Alfie at the left corner. I got a proof read copy which had a simple cover.


The theme of the book is LOVE…. that a son feels for his father… and goes through all troubles to get his father back from the WAR hospital.

A small boy of 9 tells his story.  His name is Alfie Summerfield and he is absolutely cute as his name. The story revolves around World War I when the men had no choices but to sign for the front. Alfie’s father too has to leave his son, his wife, his mother and the city to go and serve the country. This happens when Alfie was five. For four years, the father doesn’t return and Alfie has no clue about him.

The young boy narrates his story from his fifth birthday,  the last one his parents put together for him before the war, their separation and the worst times. There are moments when he absolutely wins over the hearts of readers. One feels so touched by his innocence. His connection and fascination with one book was very interesting. Whenever, he had time he would always read and re-read the book ‘The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe’ which his neighbors and freeings had gifted him for his birthday.



The story is about a small kid whose kiddish and mature acts tug at our heartstrings. At the age of nine, he behaves wonderfully to support his mom who works as a nurse. Since his father’s letters have stopped coming, he assumes that his father is dead but refrains from confronting his mom. He is supposed to attend school all week but he goes there only on two days because he is fond of reading and history. On the other days he earns as shoe shine boy for the rainy days acting as the man of the house. The conversations he makes with different people, who come for their shoe shine makes it all the more interesting.

The Author has etched out sweet and simple characters. The friendship Alfie had with his friend Kalena, from Prague is beautifully portrayed. They had a unique attachment and the best part was that Alfie was absolutely confident that one day Kalena would become the Prime Minister even though women were not even allowed to cast their vote.

This book makes for all ages because it touches upon sensitive and emotional side of humans. And one must read it to find out about Alfie’s secret plan and his train journey. The kid comes out too brave for his age but he does it all for one thing and that is LOVE.



John Boyne is the author of the much acclaimed book ‘The boy in the Striped Pajamas’. It has been made into a movie too.  I am desperately keen on catching up with it.

Hugs to Random House India for sending this one for review.  I loved it.

Happy Reading!!!


Written by

Manjulika Pramod

An engineer who loves to be called a blogger more!
Traveler, short-story writer, voracious reader, foodie is the better me!
Reading, eating, traveling, exploring, observing and blogging are the beautiful highs of my life.