I received a copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
If you’re going to read What Milo Saw, prepare to have your heart thoroughly warmed. It’s got a lovely old gran, a determined little boy who won’t let his disability get in the way of doing what’s right and even an adorable teacup pig.
This debut novel could have easily ended up a little too sickly-sweet and contrived, but, for me, MacGregor got it pretty much spot on. This book is so sweet it literally had me cooing at various points throughout the book; I challenge you to read it and not smile. It didn’t resonate with me as much as other novels I’ve read this year – it had a tough act to follow following Station Eleven – so I can’t rate it a full five stars, but it’s pretty damn close to flawless.
The main protagonist is Milo, a twelve year old boy who suffers from Retinitis Pigmentosa. This means that can only see the world through a small pinhole; his eyesight will worsen as he grows older and he’ll eventually go blind. But that’s not the only way he differs from the other children in his school – despite his visual impairment, Milo is more observant than the other children; “It was easy; you just looked for the thing that you thought no one else would notice.”
He also loves spending time with his Gran (and Hamlet the teacup pig) and it’s these two things which lead to him embarking on a mission to expose Forget Me Not, the local nursing home where his Gran has recently been placed.
The book switches between multiple narrators; Milo, his Mum Sandy, his gran Lou and Tripi, the homeless immigrant cook from the nursing home, one of the only people who really understands and listens to Little Milo. Although Milo’s is the strongest voice, the multiple narratives really work, revealing the layers of generations involved in the story and providing a more adult perspective.
But Milo is the main character here, and what a character he is. His naive but righteous voice really shines through, and this is one of those books which made me feel guilty for being such a cynical adult, who just accepts society in its current form and rarely trues to do anything about it. Milo sees something wrong, and he’s proactive in trying to change it. He’s a bit of an amateur sleuth, but his perseverance is inspiring, and it pays off in a truly touching ending.
I’d recommend this book for anyone looking for a heart-warming tale; What Milo Saw really highlights the importance of family, love and standing up for what’s right. A perfect read, especially around the Christmas season.