The Impossible Boy by Leonie Agnew
The Impossible Boy by Leonie Agnew. Pub. Penguin Random house, 2016.
This novel for children and young adults is staggeringly good.It is multi level, thought provoking and ultimately hopeful in spite of an endless war where there are no rules only winners and losers.
Every night on the TV News we see children hauled from the rubble of war torn cities in the Middle East, dirty, shaking, their faces carved masks of indifference and largely emotionless except for their eyes. It is gut wrenching.How do they cope with war? What do they feel? This novel directly confronts these questions.
Benjamin is 6 years old and he has an imaginary friend called Vincent Gum who looks after him after a train crash and delivers him to a children’s orphanage in the middle of a war torn city. Other children, who belong to no side, are in there, and Ben teams up with 14 year old girl Lucky, her brother Zaar and younger children Amos and Sofia.
Ben’s imagination is ultimately going to save all of these children who have turned the art of survival into a game. Each copes with war in a different way but their fears in this novel are personified in the form of the Hanger Man who hides in the closet. It is Ben’s imaginary friend Vincent who helps teach the children their fears cannot hurt them.
Vincent is a character in his own right with his own fears and he must learn how to cope too.
Leonie Agnew ‘s descriptions of the war situation are stunning. After an air attack she says even “the air seems to be crying’ and the journalists cameras “snap like a wild animal”
This book is unforgettable.