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.
Splendidly narrated by Audible favorite Bahni Turpin (The Help). Emma Donoghue, bestselling author of Room, raves, "Simultaneously accurate and fantastical, this boy's love letter to the world made me laugh and tremble all the way through. Pigeon English is a triumph."
Welcome to 11-year-old Harri Opuku's world, where fast running is exalted, girls make him feel "funny," and the rules for rock, paper, scissors are very serious. He's an innocent – a Ghana immigrant to the London projects who often humorously misuses English words – living in a corrupt, poor, and crime-ridden London slum. He tries to make sense of his new surroundings, and the evil he so often finds in them. So much so, that when a boy at his school is murdered, Harri and his best friend Dean set out to solve the crime, using their best impressions of detective work, as seen on their favorite television show, CSI. But their fun game turns dangerous when they stumble upon real evidence.
With the perfect mix of little boy earnestness, child-like wonder, and a spot-on Ghana accent, Turpin breathes life into the naive, but observant Harri. Slang phrases that may be hard to comprehend when simply reading the story like (“ahsweh”, for “I swear”) are easily understood when rolled out in context by Turpin's tongue. Her brogue talent is only magnified when she effortlessly switches between Harri's voice and the strong Cockney accent of his British school friends.
The only misstep of the novel are the short narration breaks throughout, where a pigeon takes over with his observations. It's almost like a guardian angel, but it's in the form of a bird. They're superfluous and head-scratching, but Turpin breezes through them and re-establishes Harri's narrative with ease. If you're looking for an intense murder mystery, keep looking. But if you enjoy intriguing and poignant slice-of-life stories, this book is for you. Not since The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-Time, has there been a child protagonist that is so thoroughly and uniquely captivating. Colleen Oakley
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Not what I expected
- L. Abernathy