I became aware of Millions by Frank Cottrell Boyce at a recent Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) writing group and thought I’d give it a try. Wow! I’m glad that I did. What a fabulous book.
The story is a very endearing tale of what happens when an autistic boy is the unwitting recipient of a bag full of cash hurled off a train into his den in his back garden (he calls his den a ‘Hermitage’ though). The boy, Damian, knows everything about saints, regurgitating facts about them in school, at home and everywhere else. When the bag of cash lands he thinks it’s a gift from God and sets out to spend it on the poor and other meaningful causes. The only problem is that people start to ask questions and time is running out for Damian and his older brother, Anthony because the cash is in British pounds and the country is just days away from switching to Euros. If they don’t spend the cash before the switch, it will be worthless.
The writing is very accomplished and very funny. Damian’s view of the world and how people react to him is seen through his autism. He’s very black and white in how he interacts with people, taking a literal stance on issues with his autism robbing him (or is it sparing him…?) of the true realities and nuances. This has been deftly employed by Boyce to create humour and an endearing quality to Damian’s character.
Who threw the cash from the train? Will they come back for it? How do Damian and Anthony rationalise trying to spend tens of thousands of pounds of stolen money? This is a engaging moral dilemma that Damian deals with effortlessly!
I highly recommend this to anyone, child or adult. I will definitely be looking out for more books by Boyce. The fact that this book is now to be a major motion picture, is no surprise to me at all.
Rating out of 5: ♦♦♦♦♦
Suggested age: 8 -12