Book 8 of 52: Alone on a Wide Wide Sea by Michael Morpurgo


Alone on a Wide Wide Sea is a children’s book written by Michael Morpurgo. After reading that sentence you might well be thinking, where have I heard that name before? Michael Morpurgo is the author of the children’s novel The War Horse, which was made into a West End stage show and eventually into a hit Steven Spielberg movie.

So why are you reading about a children’s book on a website designed to provide inspiration for positive change?

I am a divorced parent and I am finding the situation very tough. When I divorced I was mentally prepared to deal with the loss of my wife, but not prepared for the loss of my son. My lack of preparation was a lack of understanding. Even though I moved out of the marital home I honestly didn’t think I would see my son so rarely. Due to a combination of my work, the fact that my son lives in a different home and his age means that I only see him a few times per month. Although I know I am a very kind and loving parent, I fight with myself continually over my merits as a good father.

Since my separation I have realised how much you take your children for granted. I can no longer afford the luxury of watching him draw, play on his Nintendo DS or watch TV as I laze about. I have been trying too hard to force activities on him, activities that I derive pleasure out of and not necessarily my son. I have spoken about this with my therapist and she spoke about the need to understand what his interests are and find some common ground.

My son is crazy about Futurama and he doesn’t stop talking about the programme. I could tell he was really enthused by this show so I bought the entire Season One and started watching it. Now when I see him I can join in with his conversations and I can see that he really appreciates it.

Alone on the Wide Wide Sea is my son’s favourite book. He told me that the story was amazing and that it brought tears to his eyes on several occasions. I love books and it was great to see him so enthused about literature so I decided to read it myself – once again to help create a stronger bond between us. The book itself is a lovely story about an orphan from the UK who was shipped over to Australia to find a new home. Throughout his life he dreams of returning to the UK to find his sister Kitty. The tale is magical and moving and if you like a good story then this is a great read.

You can’t force your children to like the same things that you do, but you can choose to grow an interest in what they are interested in. I am finding that this approach creates a stronger bond with children, and I hope someone else can learn from this and grow a stronger bond with their own child as well.

Why did I pick up this book?

When I agreed to end my 15-year marriage I wasn’t really thinking about the future. I listened to my heart and although it was in pain it was telling me that leaving was the right thing to do. It was such a very sad time when I left the marital home but there were further tears waiting for me down the road.

I had just started to work abroad on the poker circuit and as such was only home a few weeks per month. Normally this would not have been so problematic as so many fathers work away from home these days, but living apart prolonged the pain. I was not prepared for the hurt that being away from my son would bring. People would assume that because I was working abroad I had little care for my son – they couldn’t be further wrong. It suddenly struck me that this is what my new life would be like. My time with my son would be fleeting and I started to worry that I would lose his love. I was also feeling very isolated and alone. I didn’t really have anyone to talk to and so I sought solace in the form of counseling.

My wonderful counsellor Sarah Worley listened to me worry about the assumed deterioration in my relationship with my son. She advised me to keep in touch with him on a regular basis and show him that I cared. During one of my discussions with him I told him that I had watched the movie the War Horse based on the Michael Morpurgo novel. My son Jude told me that the greatest book he ever read was called Alone on the Wide Wide Sea by Michael Morpurgo. He told me how it had made his teacher, him and most of his class cry.

I ordered the book on my new Amazon Kindle and read it in a week. As usual when I read the last page I was seated on a place. I turned to my left and looked out of my window. Below me I could see glacier white icy fields and across the way the sky was tinged with an understated orange hue. I thought about my beloved son as tears ran down my face and onto the electronic pages of his favourite book.

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