Barbara's Reviews > The Unforgotten Coat

The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce
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's review
Dec 20, 11

bookshelves: immigration, ncbla
Read in December, 2011

One of the things I especially like about this book is how it includes several photographs which the author proceeds to wrap his story around. The photographs are interesting by themselves, but the way in which they support the story is pretty interesting. From the perspective of an adult, Julie recalls her sixth grade year when she was appointed to be a "good guide" for two brothers from Mongolia. Chingis and Nergui are a mystery to Julie and her classmates who are intrigued by the tales Chingis tells about his homeland and his connection to Genghis Khan. When Julie visits her old school, she finds the coat Chingis left behind as well as some Polaroid pictures, and that sixth grade year all comes crashing back. She remembers helping the boys navigate language, culture, and school expectations, and she also recalls when she learned the truth about the photographs that Chingis claimed were taken in Mongolia. When her friends' family disappears, she becomes concerned about the coat that was left behind. This book packs a powerful wallop in its reminder to be careful about our assumptions about those we meet. The truths to which we often cling may not be as unyielding as we might think. The Afterword in which the author explains the inspiration of his story adds to the book's appeal as well. This one lingers in the mind and is likely to prompt many readers to reread it as soon as they finish it in order to search out clues about the boys.
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