What Milo Saw
By Virginia Macgregor
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.
What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor is a really sweet, charming and whimsical story about young boy trying to get his beloved Gran out of a nursing home that is mistreating it’s clients. Milo the main character the novel is based around is different from others as he has an eye disease called Retinas Pigmentosa, which gives him pin point like vision so he can often see things that get missed by most people, so when he starts to notice strange things going on in the Forget Me Not Nursing Home where his Gran got shipped off to no one believes him. He knows this place is not right and the old people are being treated badly, he does everything in his power to prove his claims to friends, family and the community of Slipton town.
The novel isn’t just in Milo’s perspective, Virginia Macgregor gives a vast variety of colourful characters throughout the story, and there are 4x perspectives who give their inner monologue throughout, Milo, his mother Sandy, Lou his Grandmother who hasn’t spoken a work in over 60 years, and Tripi his friend who is a Syrian Refugee working as a chef in the nursing home. I was glad there were other points of view in this novel, I felt it gave it more depth and wasn’t just about a 9 year old freaking out about his Gran. Also I felt Milo was an unreliable voice at times, in the sense that he made you believe his mother didn’t care about him, that she just wanted to get rid of his Gran, that she didn’t tell him things on purpose which was all quite wrong, when you heard from Sandy his mum you realised she was quite a sensitive character, her husband had left her on her own to look after his mother and son, she had no money coming in as her business was failing, she had loads of bills to pay and now a child who has become quite stressed and acting like a teenager. The other characters input and stories are intertwined really well and it’s interesting to see how Milo interacts with this people and how all these people have a connection.
I really loved Milo as a character, he was only 9 years old and when his Gran was living with them he was pretty much her full time carer, throughout the book he showed initiative, courage, determination and was generally a very sweet boy who just wanted to take action and help his Grandmother. On the other hand you had all the adults around him who didn’t believe what he saw, even though he voiced his concerns a few times no one not even the police wanted to help him at all, did they all think he was lying? Or does this show that as adults we don’t want to cause a “fuss” with this kind of thing, it’s best swept under the carpet and ignored rather than taking action and finding out truths. Milo wasn’t thinking about the consequences if his claims were untrue, he was concerned about the welfare of his Gran and it was actually quite sad that neither his own mother, teacher or police man believed him at all.
I felt that a lot of themes throughout the novel were very topical and thought provoking. There were two that stood out for me, the obvious one being that the elderly residents of the care home were being mistreated and neglected by their so called care providers of the nursing home. How often do you see that on the news these days? It’s unfortunatly quite a regular occurrence, but unlike the news and its horror stories Mcgregor still makes these quite distressing moments light and uses humour to lift the tone. Not that this subject should be mocked or belittled but I felt Mcgregor shed light onto a subject that is so relevant to todays world without turning it into a really distressing upsetting read. The other topical subject was about the character Tripi, a Syrian refugee who has fled to the UK for safety yet by accident left his 12 year old sister behind and is extremly concerned for her safety, he has no home, no friends or family the only thing he does have is the chef job at the nursing home. I really felt for Tripi and I thought he was an eye opening character; you often see on the news a lot of negativity about Syria, refugees, asylum seekers etc. They are “lazy” “mistreat our benefit system” “take all our jobs” “are horrible people” are a few things that I have heard in newspapers and on TV. Mcgregor gives this current issue a positive spin and I really commend her for that.
What Milo Saw hasn’t been my favourite read of the year but I found the story very current, refreshing, heartwarming and I adored Milo as a character. A very sweet whimsical story about the love of a little boy for his Gran, it’s just made me want to go see my Nanny and give her a big squeeze!
Have you read What Milo Saw? What did you think of this novel? I would love to know you’re thoughts, thanks for reading. Katie. x