By Author / Illustrator
I must admit that when I first heard about this book I had considerable doubts - Oliver Twist meets Operation Yewtree?? It sounded like an attempt to out-dark a market already saturated by the grim and the gloomy. However, I could not have been more wrong. Nobody Saw No One deals with a depressingly relevant issue with sensitivity, tact, depth and hope as well as helpings of humour and heart. Citizen Digit is our contemporary Artful Dodger and a more delightful character you'd be hard-pressed to find. He has a very original, charismatic voice, slang and all - it's humorous, mostly honest and enjoyably hyperactive. Alfi Spar as Oliver is his earnest but naive conscience and together they make a wonderful double act. The book begins with Digit attempting to elope with a television set, running into Alfi, who is begging on the streets. We discover that they have both run away from the same care home after witnessing something terrible and, as the dangerous secret they share is teased out, by both readers and other characters, Digit must decide where his true loyalties lie and if doing the right thing is more important than looking out for oneself. Tasane has created a vibrant tapestry of colourful characters, from the downright despicable to, comparatively, the merely dodgy. Fagin is a smartly-dressed hacker with a variety of questionable apps for every occasion and Nancy and Sykes, themselves both victims of the same system, are given much-needed depth, with Tasane touching upon the cycle of abuse and nudging the reader to ask why these characters have ended up where we now find them. Perhaps most importantly, the issue of sexual abuse is handled with great care - it is never used gratuitously and for most of the book it remains in the background, an ominous shadow, looming over everything. When the truth is revealed to our protagonist for the first time, the shadow finally becomes manifest, and his heart-breaking reaction is raw and painful. Tasane doesn't shy away from the long-reaching consequences such abuse can have on both victims and witnesses as well as the wider society in which these crimes are taking place. Despite the brutal subject matter, Nobody Saw No One is also a very funny, incredibly moving action-packed adventure with a fantastically endearing duo at its heart. I hope it gets the acclaim and audience it deserves. 320 pages / Ages 15+ / Reviewed by Charlotte Revelle, librarian.