The first half of this book was a real slog for a number of reasons that all kind of boiled down to – it’s yet another novel about a young white boy figuring out life in the shadow of World War II. At this point, I have lost count of the number of these I have read and they all blur together, and this one just also felt like not enough actually happened in it for it to stand out. The first half of the book involved smuggling greyhounds and it still felt dull. I pushed through for two reasons – I’d already abandoned one book this year/month, and it was on Barack Obama’s “Best of 2018” list (yes, y’all will be seeing a lot of those).
That’s a weird prologue for this review. Warlight is told from the perspective of a young British man named Nathaniel in two different time frames. The first is the late 1940s, when he’s a teenager and both his parents jet off and leave him and his older sister in the care of a friend of theirs the kids refer to only as The Moth. It’s basically Nathaniel’s life in this weird situation as he and his sister pull themselves into not entirely legal world of The Moth and learn more about their mother and her service during (and possibly after) the war.
And that is a draaaaaaaaag. As previously stated, it feels like just page after page of pure tedium and honestly my faith in Obama was taking the tiniest bit of a hit. BUT! In part two, Ondaatje finally gets around to the story he should have been telling all along – the mother’s.
Unfortunately, her story is still told through the lens of her dull son but holy cannoli is it awesome. I was given only the bare bones but I wanted more and more and more. If you pick this up, feel free to skip straight to the second half. You won’t be missing much.