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Close to the Wind

Review

Close to the Wind

Amid a war-torn country, 10-year-old Malik is separated from his mother and has no choice but to stay with Papa, his once-lucrative grandfather who he barely knows. The two lie in wait in an abandoned cottage until they meet up with Malik's mother to board a Peacemakers ship that will transport them to a safer environ. Two intruders, who turn out to be Papa’s business acquaintances, enter the cottage and ponder with Papa on procuring funds for the rumored pricey tickets. Papa has the perfect solution, but it requires extracting a diamond-imbedded tooth. Unfortunately, the tooth is stolen and Malik is forced to travel as an orphan to his new surroundings. Luckily, Malik discovers Papa's missing tooth en route, but trying to retrieve it is another matter.
 
Rising author Jon Walter has created a heart-wrenching coming-of-age tale with CLOSE TO THE WIND. Placed within an assumed World War II setting, Walter's third person narrative includes realistic qualities of sacrifice and survival often reflective of war-weary refugees. Walter has also produced a small but well-developed foiled cast who consistently push Malik to make uncomfortable decisions, especially when his immediate world is steeped in lies. That said, Walter does a stellar job surrounding Malik with one paradox after the other amid the plethora of choices set before him, and closes on an unanticipated note.
 
Walter's third person narrative includes realistic qualities of sacrifice and survival often reflective of war-weary refugees
 
A wordsmith, Walter offers descriptions that draw readers right into his scenes. A clear example is when Papa's business acquaintances extract his diamond-enhanced tooth. To say the least, the imagery Walter portrays is painful to read. Eliminating chapter entries completely, Walter instead divides his debut novel into three sections and defines the beginning and ending of scenes with a simple compass symbol. While this type of format effectively breaks up scenes, it also creates a near seamless illusion --- an unbreakable chain --- in the storyline. Walter goes one step further to keep his narrative flowing by periodically including alternating character scenes as well as cliffhanging segment closures.
 
All in all, kudos to Walter for fashioning a spellbinding novel that should be read by adults and youth alike!

Reviewed by Anita Lock on August 20, 2015

Close to the Wind
by Jon Walter

  • Publication Date: July 25, 2017
  • Genres: Youth Fiction
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: David Fickling Books
  • ISBN-10: 0545822750
  • ISBN-13: 9780545822756