Running Wild

A Book Review by Cecilia Drury (BER S4E)

Will is a nine-year-old boy who lives with his mother. When they receive news that his father has been killed by a bomb whilst at war in Iraq, they are devastated, but to clear their heads they decide to go on a holiday to Indonesia, where Will’s mother comes from. After a few days they start to settle in and enjoy themselves and on Boxing Day Will goes on an elephant ride on the beach, which is usually the elephant, Oona’s favourite place to be, but soon after they arrive by the sea Oona starts trumpeting frantically and charges off into the rainforest with Will in tow. Once on higher ground, Oona finally slows down enough for Will to look back at the beach and he realizes what had spooked her: a huge tsunami had hit.

Starving, alone, lost and terrified, it is all Will can do to stay alive. Knowing Oona is his only chance of survival, he involuntarily embarks on a life changing journey through the jungle with his new-found friend and learns to live on nothing but the bare necessities of life, encountering various obstacles along the way. He experiences the magic of the rainforest as its inhabitants start to accept him as one of their own, but also the horrifying reality of the capability of humankind and the irreparable damage power can do when in the wrong hands.

After the first few pages of the story, I couldn’t put this book down, but not because it was particularly thrilling or had cliff hangers on every other page; just the sheer beauty of each sentence on each page compelled me to read it. Part of what makes this book so special is that, unlike many children’s stories, Michael Morpurgo does not pull any punches and often his stories don’t have perfect happy endings, which makes them seem all the more realistic. He also does not sugarcoat situations or make unlikely miracles occur.

Another thing I like about Running Wild is that the way in which Morpurgo describes the protagonist’s emotions allows you to slip into the character’s mind, so that you can almost see everything they are seeing and feel everything they are feeling.

I strongly recommend this book to anyone above the age of 10, especially if you feel strongly about acting against deforestation and poaching since it is very motivational and contains a lot of wisdom and truth, I know that in my case it is a book that I will keep close to my heart and am not likely to forget for a long time.