When We Were Romans is told from the viewpoint of a nine year-old boy. Kneale's ability to maintain that voice throughout the book is remarkable even if a bit wearing. Lawrence, the narrator, gives the reader a stream of consciousness view into his journey to and adventures in Rome with his mother and younger sister.
I found the writing style tedious. In fact, I'm slightly annoyed with myself for finishing this book. I kept getting frustrated with it all the way through, but kept at it to find out if my hypothesis about this family was right. And, of course, it was. This is not an uplifting, or particularly original, story so don't expect it to be.
Bottom Line: If reading misspelled words and grammatically incorrect sentences drives you crazy, I wouldn't recommend this book for you.