by A.M. Dassu
"It's strange how we'd got used to the war in Syria and thought it wouldn't affect us...But then everyone in Syria thought the war wouldn't affect them- until it did." 13-year-old Sami and his family flee their (until recently) privileged comfortable life in Damascus for safety in the UK. The journey is long, often impeded by both opportunists and unyielding, inhumane beaurocratic systems. And, in the end, it seems 'sanctuary' isn't always kind. Nor comfortable.
Publishers submit a number of refugee narratives to Letterbox Library every year but very few manage to communicate the pain and lived trauma of the people making those journeys while also according refugees full humanity, dignity, and agency. Boy Everywhere is one of those very rare, authenticating and 'humanising' narratives. It is also a captivating story. From a debut writer, this is one remarkable achievement! In the words of London-based Syrian author, Nadine Kaadan, "I feel that it's the first time I've read an English novel about our country without feeling strange or alienated from our own culture. I can't think of a more empowering book about Syrian refugees. At a time when most children's books about Syria are full of cultural appropriation and are very far away from the reality of our lives back home, this book is a must read for anyone who wants to expand their minds, bookshelves and most importantly, for those who want to overcome and challenge the negative stereotypes of Syria and Syrian refugees in literature." Age 9-13, Paperback 283pp