Author: Virginia Macgregor
Rating: ★★★ 1/2
Synopsis: Nine-year-old Milo suffers from retinitis pigmentosa: his eyes are slowly failing, and he will eventually go blind. But for now, he sees the world through a pin hole and notices things other people don’t. When Milo’s beloved 92-year-old gran succumbs to dementia and moves into a nursing home, Milo begins to notice things amiss at the home. The grown-ups won’t listen when he tries to tell them something’s wrong so with just Tripi, the nursing home’s cook, and Hamlet, his pet pig, to help, Milo sets out on a mission to expose the nursing home and the sinister Nurse Thornhill.
Huge thank you to Hachette Book Group Canada for this ARC!
What Milo Saw is a very odd, yet interesting mystery novel. It stars a young boy with a unique disability called retinitis pigmentosa, meaning he will eventually go blind and can only see out of a small pinhole. Accompanied by his trusty pet pig, Hamlet, Milo investigates an occurrence that is happening at his grandmother’s nursing home.
If there’s one thing I adored about this book, it’s the exploration of elder abuse. Not only is elder abuse uncommon in media, but it’s topic that often goes completely undiscussed. A lot of the actions of Nurse Thornhill are quite vial, and while reading the novel you get this sense that although Milo is an armature sleuth, he still young and in a vulnerable position where he’s trying to understand the world from beyond a child’s perspective. He doesn’t feel like any adult would believe him if he told him what was actually happening, and given that Forget-Me-Not is a Nursing Home for those suffering from Alzheimer and Dementia, it makes for a tougher situation to prove.
That being said, it seemed odd that Milo had a disability in this story because from the perspective of how it’s written, given how little he can see, that doesn’t seem to be an issue for him. Everything came across a bit too easy and it seemed like it was written that he had more sight than was actually let on, and I found that rather disappointing, given that I love to read stories with diverse protagonists, but this aspect just feel very flat to me. What was the point in giving the character a disability if it’s not really predominate to how he views the world in the story? I mean, this is a fairly long novel, and given how little it’s mentioned while he’s attempting to solve the mystery behind Nurse Thornhill, it just didn’t work for me. That and Nurse Thornhill read like a caricature and not a character.
And yet, this novel is really genuine and funny. There’s so many wonderful, heart-warming moments that really make you feel for the characters in the story. I loved the relation Milo forges with Tripi, and I loved how important his Muslim roots are to him. I really adored Milo’s relationship with his grandmother and his determination to solve what was happening at the nursing home. If I had an gripes about Milo as a character, he came across a little too perfect at times. I mean, I understood how naïve, innocent and young he is, but that boy came across like he didn’t have any flaws.
What Milo Saw is an interesting and engaging read. It asks the readers to come face first with a topic that is seldom explored and it’s a pretty horrific one. It’s also a book that will provide so many feelings as your reading it — from anger, joy, frustration, and a sense of justice. What Milo Saw is a book that I think both young adults and adults can enjoy equally, as it asks the reader to put themselves in a very unique set of shoes