“Stay Where You Are And Then Leave” by John Boyne is such a simple, lovely heartbreaking book. Written by the author of “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,” it tells the story of Alfie, whose fifth birthday party is interrupted by the outbreak of World War One. His father, Georgie, enlists, and promises to be “home by Christmas.” Several Christmases go by, and Georgie still isn’t home, leaving Alfie and his mother in dire straits.
Alfie takes matters into his own hands, becoming a shoe shine boy and observing the world around him at the train station. He learns something he isn’t supposed to know about his father, and then, well, I’d tell you but it would spoil the book and I’ll not do that.
The book is written from Alfie’s perspective, first as a five year old, and then as a nine year old, and Boyne does a masterful job of capturing the voice of a young boy thrust in the middle of significant events and trying to make his own sense of them. It’s a relatively short book — I read it in about two sittings — and the pages fly by. It has lessons about the heartbreak of war, how it affects not just the soldiers but those who are left behind. It has messages about sacrifice and honesty and the price of conscience.
It’s a beautiful book. The kind you want to clasp to your chest when you are done reading.
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Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Asked in the First Place” was awarded the Gold Medal for humor in the Foreword INDIES awards in 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here. If you want Lori to help you market your book, click here.