Gay Neck The Story of a Pigeon by Dhan Gopal Mukerji, was not at all what I expected when I started this book. After reading it now it surprised me on how good it is and the deep meaning behind the story.
The book is set in the mid teens of the twentieth century during the first world war. The book starts out in India with the birth of a special pigeon ( gay neck) who is taught and trained by his parents and a sixteen year old boy( I am assuming it is the author, I do not recall the book ever saying his name) in the ways of flying and being a carrier pigeon.
Gay neck runs into many enemies of the sky like owls, hawks, and eagles and must learn how to outfly them or be killed. There are many adventures that gay neck and the boy go through and the descriptions of nature and the surroundings are absolutely magnificent. You actually feel peaceful reading this book.
The book is told by the sixteen year old boy but it also has parts where he has the pigeon tell his own story using, "the grammar of fancy and the dictionary of imagination." In these stories gay neck tells of the experiences he has while exploring and the many attacks on him by other birds. He talks of how cruel the world can be and asks, "Why is there so muich killing and inflicting of pain by birds and beasts on one another? I don't think all of you men hurt each other. Do you? But birds and beasts do. All that makes me so sad."
Gay Neck learns that men do go to war and hurt each other and I think that is one of the points the author was trying to make in that we humans can act just like beasts.
Gay neck goes with Ghond, a friend of his keeper to serve in the war as a carrier piegon and deliver messages from the front lines of battle to the commander in chief. Gay neck and Ghond sail from India to France and they go on a scouting trip to find a German ammunition dump. They see much killing and firing of men against men that both the pigeon and Ghond both have fear in their hearts. They go to a monestary to get healed by the wise lamas and they eventually find peace with themselves and overcome fear, suspicion, and hate.
I really liked this book even as much as I told myself that I wouldn't. I would recommend that any child read this book.