This post is part of the changes that are being made to the site, which includes expanding the genres reviewed.
Originally the blog was just going to review speculative fiction, but as my role developed at work I am reading more children’s books (plus other fiction and non-fiction), so I’ve decided to roll my other blogs into this one so there is only one site to maintain.
With this change I can now write about three of my favourite books that I’ve read in the past year; ‘The Optician of Lampedusa’, ‘The Bone Sparrow’, and ‘The Journey’, two of which are children’s books and one which is non-fiction.
Each of these books deals with the refugee crisis and what happens to people fleeing from wars and oppression throughout the world and how governments approach the crisis.
‘The Optician of Lampedusa‘ by Emma-Jane Kirby is a ‘fictionalised’ account of a group of Italians encounter with a boatload of refugees off the coast of Lampedusa, the most southerly point of Italy, an island very close to Tunisia.
It looks at the tragedy of a capsized refugee boat from the view point of the Optician and his friends, who were on holiday when they came across people in the sea, especially when they find out they weren’t the first boat to get there.
A book of guilt, anger and passion. Closely observing how each of these emotions rack the main characters and how they develop through these emotions.
This is very nearly my favourite book of 2016, it is so well observed and written.
‘The Bone Sparrow‘ by Zana Frallion is set in an internment camp in Australia and is the story of a young boy and his relationship with a young local girl who discovers a way into the camp.
Subhi is nineteen fence diamonds high and was born in the refugee camp, so knows nothing of the outside world apart from what he is told by others.
His world is one built from these stories (and also stories told by his mother) but also from the harsh realities of the refugee camp.
The intervention of Jimmie, at first thought to be a part of his imagination, acts as a catalyst for change as the camp has now been observed without the camp’s staff being able to hide the realities.
Another wonderful book, with a magical feel, exploring the hidden realities of refugees who are put behind fences and then ignored, and at times abused.
‘The Journey‘ by Francesca Sanna, is a beautifully illustrated book for younger children which explores a family from normality to their exile and tribulation as refugees.
The beauty of the illustrations often initially hides the harshness of the experiences that Sanna is showing, but when the experience comes into its harsh totality this hiding makes the emotional charge all that stronger.
I loved this book from the first to last page and, even though it is a picture book, it stands strongly with the other two books.
Emma-Jane Kirby – https://twitter.com/kirbyej
Zana Frallion – http://www.rcwlitagency.com/authors/fraillon-zana/
Francesca Sanna – https://francescasanna.com/