by A.M. Dassu
Az Dassu's latest novel is the sequel she promised her young readers. Always attentive to them, she carries out an exhausting round of school visits every year, engaging with and listening to her audience. And, that connection really does translate directly in to her characters' voices.
Kicked Out picks up from where Boy, Everywhere -the 2021 Little Rebels Award Winner- left off. We're back with many of the same characters but now the boys have bonded into a snug, supportive friendships group and the narrative is told from the perspective of 13-year-old Ali. The narrative strands are trademark Dassu- complex and multiple, taking in racism, bullying and even coercive control. But, there are two especially powerful narratives which strike out. Firstly, Ali's complicated and ambiguous feeling towards his absent father who tries to come back in to his life. And, secondly, the Home Office's 'adultifying' and the subsequent threat to deport 16-year-old Aadam. The text's engagement with the UK's treatment of refugees and asylum seekers is urgent and almost painfully contemporary. Dassu can always be counted on for doing her research diligently and with great responsibility. And, with her young readers forever in her mind, she also ensures her narratives are overlayered with hope and the possibilities of change. The end note, 'What Can We Do?' is necessary and truly galvanizing. To see our full interview with Az Dassu in Books for Keeps, visit: https://booksforkeeps.co.uk/article/an-interview-with-a-m-dassu/. Age 9-14, Paperback 220pp