BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje [in Library Journal]

“Ours was a family with a habit for nicknames, which meant it was also a family of disguises,” 14-year-old Nathaniel, aka Stitch, reveals early in Michael Ondaatje’s newest fiction. Narrator Steve West – London-born like Ondaatje’s protagonist – confidently takes Nathaniel from bewildered teenager abandoned to strangers with his sister Rachel by their parents to determined young man piecing together his family’s mysteriously pixilated history. West adapts easily from teen Nathaniel to adult caretakers, especially convincing as growling Darter, one of the frequent visitors to their parent-less home.

In postwar 1945, reinvention is both opportunity and necessity, and the siblings survive watching and learning from their unexpected house-squatters. By the time they discover their parents’ deception – their mother, at least, is not where, or even who, she’s supposed to be – Nathaniel and Rachel are no longer safe; their mother proves to be both provoker and protector.

West deftly unravels that parent’s fascinating story with steely resolve, even in the most desperate situations in which the mother must always maintain absolute control.

Verdict: Libraries should be prepared to offer Warlight in all formats.

Review: “Audio,” Library Journal, September 1, 2018

Published: 2018

Readers: Adult


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