What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

What Milo Saw is such a lovely book. It made me sad and scared and anxious in all the best ways, and kept me reading late into the night. I really cared about and connected with the characters, which is no easy feat considering that the main cast is populated by a nine-year-old boy, a Syrian refugee and a ninety-two-year-old woman.

Our hero here is Milo, a nine-year-old with retinitis pigmentosa. The degenerative eye disease means he can only see the world through a gap the size of a pinhole, but with the help of his beloved gran and the friends he makes along the way, he uses his own unique perspective to make the world a brighter place.

When Milo’s grandmother moves into a care home, he soon realises that something is amiss. The elderly residents are often hungry, cold and mistreated, but try as he might, Milo struggles to unmask the wrongdoing of the awful Nurse Thornhill.

Much as its plot might make Milo sound like a children’s book, it had me absolutely riveted. Macgregor’s writing is sublime – full of feeling and unexpected subtleties. In the very beginning, Milo’s mother felt like something of a stereotype – a self-centred single mother, obsessed with appearance, junk food and holiday shows – but as the novel progresses the relationship between Milo and his mother deepens and blossoms into something recognisably real.

More to the point, I now really want a pet micropig.

I adored this tale of fractured and found families, and would definitely read more by Macgregor in future.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Sphere at Little, Brown Book Group for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

[Read from 21-22 September 2016]

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