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Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Unforgotten Coat

The Unforgotten Coat is Frank Cottrell Boyce’s most recent novel. Readers will be drawn to this book, because of the appealing format – the story is told in a notebook with lined pages and photographs. The narrator, Julie, now a grown up, starts off by telling the readers about the picture that was taken when she was in sixth grade. It was the day she was asked to play an important role in the lives of two new boys (Chingis & Nergui), brothers from Mongolia. Being new to England, Chingis asks Julie to be the boys’ Good Guide. The story flashes forward to Julie visiting her school once more before they tear it down. She spots Chingis’s coat in the Lost Property box and in it are the pictures that help tell the story. From the very first day, Julie takes her new responsibility as their Good Guide seriously. She learns as much as she can about Mongolia and tries to infuse the others at her school with stories about Mongolian culture. Chingis claims that they are nomads and that an evil demon is following his brother around. Chingis, wise beyond his years, adds so much to the school and soaks in all that he can learn about British culture. When Julie tries to learn more about the boys like where they live and what their home life is like, the boys remain elusive. They are carrying a heavy burden, a family secret. This book made me reflect on other children who are in the same situation as Chingis and Nergui and how tough it must be when things in their lives are beyond their control. Popular books by Frank Cottrell Boyce include Cosmic and Framed.

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