Penguin Random House
Just wow! Once again Tristan has crafted a sensational narrative with high-impact tension and thought-provoking themes which will keep readers eagerly turning pages.
Two young people are both, each in their own way, prisoners of sad circumstances. Sima, with her family, is detained in a centre for illegal immigrants and under threat of deportation after three years of trying to reach a safe haven, escaping violence and turmoil at the hands of the Taliban. Dan lives in a run-down caravan park on the edge of local society ostensibly with his mother, except she’s been absent for long periods engrossed with her new partner, leaving Dan to fend for himself. Both are desperate for escape.
When protestors help fifty detainees in a daring and dangerous flight from the centre, Sima is separated from her family and does her best to evade capture by hiding out in a toilet block at the local high school.
The school goes into lockdown as a result of the incident at the detention centre and Dan inadvertently becomes involved in Simi’s predicament. For both it is a delicate balance of trust and neither is confident of the response from adults such as Dan’s mum or his teacher but it seems that, almost unexpectedly, the morality of the issue outweighs the legality and help comes when it is least likely. After all, what price a life?
As the plot unfolds the reader becomes completely invested in the characters that are realised with a deft portraiture which is compelling and emotional without becoming cloying or stereotyped. Details which round each one out are often subtle and understated lending more weight to the overall picture. It is certainly clear that one cannot categorise people as simply one thing or another – good or bad, sympathetic or callous, that there are dichotomies in everyone. This viewpoint alone would give rise to much worthwhile and meaningful discussion with young readers.
Tristan points out that essentially he has written ‘a human story, rather than a political one’ with the ultimate goal of exploring the reactions, observations and actions of those dealing with difficult situations. Despite this there is no doubt that for many readers there will be, like Dan’s teacher Miss Aston, opportunity to discuss and debate various aspects of current social conditions.
It’s never been difficult to ‘sell’ Tristan’s books to my students and now the ripple effect is evident as more and more share their recommendation with peers but this one will be a block-buster I foresee. I’ll also be sharing my thoughts with our staff as I believe it will make a great read-aloud for Middle year students.
Don’t miss out – get your copy on order now!