Monday, July 18, 2011

Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman

Pigeon English
Description from Goodreads.com
Lying in front of Harrison Opuku is a body, the body of one of his classmates, a boy known for his crazy basketball skills, who seems to have been murdered for his dinner.
Armed with a pair of camouflage binoculars and detective techniques absorbed from television shows like CSI, Harri and his best friend, Dean, plot to bring the perpetrator to justice. They gather evidence—fingerprints lifted from windows with tape, a wallet stained with blood—and lay traps to flush out the murderer. But nothing can prepare them for what happens when a criminal feels you closing in on him.
Recently emigrated from Ghana with his sister and mother to London’s enormous housing projects, Harri is pure curiosity and ebullience—obsessed with gummy candy, a friend to the pigeon who visits his balcony, quite possibly the fastest runner in his school, and clearly also fast on the trail of a murderer.
Told in Harri's infectious voice and multicultural slang, Pigeon English follows in the tradition of our great novels of friendship and adventure, as Harri finds wonder, mystery, and danger in his new, ever-expanding world.


I have to be honest that this took me around 60 pages to get used to the writing style and some of the words I had to sound aloud to understand, but then I got the hang of it. It's true that the voice of Harri does become infectious. He's young, naive, normal boy who seems to have found himself in an area of England that has some gang activities. He and his friend have just seen another friend stabbed laying on the street with a police investigation happening. They decide that they are going to find out who killed him by practicing the techniques seen on CSI (an American TV show) It's all a game, something to pass the time and making friends.
The language used in the book is mostly slang, the style of writing is very interesting and did take me some time to get used to. At first I felt a little A.D.D.  not knowing what was going on and had a little trouble following the story. Sounding out the words and keep reading was the key to finally getting a grip on it and starting to enjoy it more. I have to say I learned a lot of new words that Asweah I will probably not use in my daily conversations.
My favorite parts of the story were his banter with his sister and sometimes his friends that made me laugh out loud. I thought it was cute that he made friends with the Pigeons and like any normal kid, had a high curiosity of the things that were happening in his neighborhood.
There are good things that happen and bad things that happen, but all the while Harri takes things in stride, like an 11 year old does. Sucks in all of the information he can gather, processes it and spits it back out. This book for me was highly reminiscent of Pay it Forward with an African twist. Pigeon English


This book is not labeled as a Young Adult novel. It contains some pretty serious situations and has all too real scenes of murder and gang related activities. Even though has some very entertaining and witty parts, it has a very emotional, heavy moments. The main character is very young but deals with some very adult situations and I would only recommend to more mature readers.
The audiobook was also released 07-19-2011 and I did go and hear a sample of it here audible.com 
I really enjoyed the sample and think that I would prefer listening to it. I would recommend the audio book on this one. 

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