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Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman

11 year old boy, Harrison Opoku, is an immigrant from Ghana to the UK who lives with his mother and older sister in a rough part of London, while waiting for his father back in Ghana to earn enough money to bring over himself and Harri's baby sister, Agnes.

During March a boy- referred to only as "the dead boy" in the narration- Harri knows is stabbed to death in his neighborhood, and over the course of March through July Harri investigates the murder alongside his friend Dean.

Generic blurbs for this novel err on the side of making it sound like a straightforward murder mystery narrated mostly by an eleven year old boy, but in truth Harri's about as much of a detective as you could reasonably expect a kid to be and the novel focuses more on Harri's day to day life and the struggles of a lower class immigrant family living surrounded by crime. 

Two things mentioned by reviewers on goodreads as irritating that didn't really bother me: Harri's narration uses a bunch of slang, mostly a mix of Ghanian-English and regular British slang, which apparently some people found incomprehensible and distracting. Personally I found it easy enough to infer what Harri means from context and while it was different from what I'm used to I was able to accept it as just being how Harri talks/thinks. 

The other thing some people found bothersome was that the book is interspersed with bits of narration from a pigeon, who doesn't act much but makes observations on the humans and seems to serve as a benevolent presence keeping an eye on Harrison. Again, this didn't really bother me, but a few people found it too weird and unnecessary apparently.

Honestly I think the thing I'd personally warn people about is the ending which I found a) a bit abrupt and b) was very much a downer ending, and I know a lot of people don't like spending their time on stories that end with tragedy. Personally, after a bit of thought, I found the ending worked for me: it was incredibly sad but the rest of the book definitely wasn't a Young Boy Sleuths Out The Bad Guys kind of book and I guess on a literary note it kind of brought things full circle? At any rate it did guarantee that this story's going to stick with me for a while.
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