Review #39: The Boy Who Speaks in Numbers
Satire is never easy and satire for young adults would be an especially tough choice. Add to this the fact that Mike Masilamani references the Sri Lankan civil war in his The Boy Who Speaks in Numbers, and you realize what an uphill task he’s set himself. In the story, which is vividly illustrated by Matthew Frame, the eponymous Boy is sent to a refugee camp when his village is destroyed.
For [satire] to be effective, the context has to be firmly in place, and when one is talking about war and violence, this is especially tough…. [E]verything in The Boy Who Speaks in Numbers is a metaphor, a euphemism. It is undoubtedly a clever book—perhaps too clever by half—but it is difficult to see what attraction it might have for a teenage readership that is not familiar with the Sri Lankan civil war.