I knew right away that Milo and the Restart Button by Alan Silberberg would make me cry and it did. But it's also funny and fun and entertaining and I enjoyed every single page and illustration! While it did contain a rather sad storyline, the novel doesn't ever feel weighed down by it or depressing. Told from Milo's perspective, it also could have been a lot more emotionally manipulative and drawn-out, but instead it's very sweet and sad and a really gentle story of friendship and memory and of loss.
Milo is such a wonderful character. Nearly 13, and he's starting out at a new school in a new house. He think he's got a weird name and he can be a bit awkward around girls and his other classmates. Telling his story, he includes all these fantastic little drawings to help better explain how he's feeling or showing us the different houses he's lived in and this cool alter-ego, Dabney St. Clare, that he's created for himself. They vary from qutie small to full-page illustrations and really break up the text and possibly to maintain interest (as well as laughs!) for any reluctant readers.
I think what struck me the most from Milo's story (besides his great sense of humour) is that of accepting both the good along with the bad. Because when Milo's mother died, a restart button was pushed, one that helped to erase some of the sadness and the grief that Milo and his dad and sister were all feeling. They've gotten rid of photos and mementoes that remind them all of her and as a family they never speak of her. It's a fresh start in all things. But with the help of some new friends and a rather eccentric neighbour, Milo begins to question the wisdom of that restart button and finally comes to terms with how different his life is and what he'd like to remember of life before.
Honestly, there are some bits to the story that really made my heart ache for poor Milo. The book covers a year in his life and especially at each major holiday, Christmas for example, we can see how broken his family has become, how they've drifted apart in their grief. But while acknowledging these things, Milo, being a not-quite teenage boy, also has other things to focus on, like his obsessive crush on a popular and unattainable girl at school and hanging out with his best friends watching movies and eating pizza. I do find the balance between the sad and funny as well as the grieving and moving forward was done really well.
Alan Silberberg wrote a really touching and emotional story here and I am really glad to have read it.
The above review was brought to MFB via Fluttering Butterflies. Fluttering Butterflies is run by "Clover" (Michelle to her non-online friends) whom I met for the first time, face to face, this year at the Penguin press event. We hit it off and I check in on Fluttering Butterflies regularly as there is always interesting content and booky blogs about pretty shiny books we all want.