‘David was familiar only with various tones of grey and brown, and of course the blue of the sky. Well, yes he had once seen a little red flower that had strayed inside the camp wall. Apart from that, colour was something he had only heard of: he had seen only a pale and muddied reflection of it- in the ugliness of the camp and the equally ugly quarters of the guards’ -This paragraph is an adequate summary and a useful insight to the first twelve years of David’s life. Brought up in an eastern european concentration camp, David begins his journey of escape after being assisted by him- a guard which David- in what he believes to be mutual hatred, refuses to name, even in his own thoughts.
As he travels through Europe, with nothing but the aid of a compass, the people he meets are baffled by him, unsure of what to think. He has no distinguishing accent, appearance and can speak several languages fluently, despite lacking even the most basic common knowledge. After discovering an orange, he describes its colour as ‘not yellow nor red but both at once’. The author manages to beautifully portray David’s intelligence and innocence as he learns about relating to people and how to act around them without arousing suspicion (often failing miserably, but with consequences that would be almost humorous if they weren’t so cleverly written and disturbingly real).
This book gives a devastatingly insightful perception of peoples’ prejudices and inadequacies from the original perspective of a boy with unbelievable moral values and an unmovable sense of right and wrong. The character of David is all the more unique and intriguing, as he has all these qualities despite being raised in an environment surrounded by people who were either too broken to care or who had such a perverted sense of moral values that they were unable to comprehend the concept of treating all others with respect or even tolerance. With a moral undertone that is neither condescending nor preaching, endless twists and turns and a fast-paced, can’t-put-down kind of story right up until the end, this book is a must-read, for children and adults alike.