Robert Dinsdale is a blinding talent. Prepare to be seriously moved by his novel Little Exiles, which is at once a traumatic story about forced child migration, a riveting tale of friendship, a survival saga and an emotional tragedy.
It’s in the sheer resilience of the characters that the narrative finds its drive, and the result is an excruciatingly memorable and thought-provoking book which is deeply affecting long after the final chapter.
Jon Heather is nearly nine when his mother leaves him at the door of Chapeltown Boy’s Home in Leeds. He’s certain that she’ll return for him in two months. But he and an assemblage of anxious boys are packed off to Australia for a new life under the strict regime of the Children’s Crusade. Thus begins an intricate tapestry of lies, deceit, cruelty, love, courage, unwavering faith in loyalty and friendship, and a journey home that lasts a lifetime.
Contemporary fiction doesn’t get much better than this. Little Exiles is the best kind of book: intense, visually and emotionally descriptive, fast-paced and a well-written story that keeps the reader awake long past bedtime. The plot is so good and so gripping in this superlative tale that putting down the book is almost a physical impossibility.
Jon Heather’s struggle against all the odds is a truly inspirational story which is based on true events and laced with wry observation. Little Exiles is an exquisitely crafted must-read.
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