5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
A brilliant page turner..., 11 Dec 2011
Shortlisted for the Man Booker prize award 2011, Pigeon English was one of my best reads yet. As a book I would have usually avoided, as I prefer `romance' novels, I was pleasantly surprised at how wonderfully this book was written and at how Kelman engaged me as a reader through the use of his endearing characters and current goings-on that are happening all around us.
The common themes in this unlikely fairy tale are naivety and vulnerability.
The main character, Harrison Opoku, is living on a rough London estate after recently emigrating from Ghana with his mother and older sister; he also had to leave his Papa, his baby sister and his grandparents behind. He then has to face every 11 year olds worst night mare of joining a new school, making new friends and not running into any trouble with the school's gang: The Dell Farm Crew. However, the main plot of this story is not these issues at all but another frighteningly common issue in Britain today of knife crime. A young boy from Hari's school has been stabbed, so Hari and his new friend, Jordan, take it upon themselves to solve this crime. Confronting trouble with the school gang and partaking in tasks that Hari doesn't agree with, but does anyway just to fit in, he finds comfort in a pigeon that he talks to, who talks sense to him and gives him some very deep and meaningful speeches. One of the few things that Hari has going for him, other than a loving family, is that he is the 2nd fastest runner in year 7. Although, his Mama can't afford the latest trainers so he draws his Adidas stripes on with his marker pen, unaware of the obsession that the western culture has with brands. The differences in cultures is so prominent in this novel, that Hari has such an innocence about him, you can't help but to love him and his close relationship he maintains with his family throughout.
Addressing many other hot topics along the way such as girlfriends, hormonal older sisters and cultural differences on what is right and wrong, Kelman portrays London through the eyes of an innocent and naïve child, in such a realistic manner that it is incredibly refreshing, as opposed to seeing it through the eyes of a middle-class citizen which we so often do in our society. This book is filled with such energy, and the author's fantastic use of imagery created such vivid snapshots in my mind, that I couldn't help but become 100% engrossed in the story. I never thought that a book would bring me to tears, but this one did... tears of laughter and tears of pain. Thanks to this delightful read, it has opened my eyes to many issues that I have realised I have overlooked in life and to really see all of these issues through such a believable point of view, is a real achievement for Stephen Kelman.
If it's an emotive and highly moving novel you are after or not, I CANNOT recommend this book highly enough!