Mahtab’s world is slowly shrinking. Her best friend, Leila, has left with her family, for Iran; her father returns home one evening, beaten, and her grandfather does not return at all. Because she is a girl, Mahtab is no longer allowed to go school and her mother no longer permitted to work. This is the way it has become in Afghanistan.
And so one scary night, Mahtab, her mother, brother and sister hide in a truck laden with furniture and bags of grain. With her father and another man as the drivers, they set out on the dangerous journey to Pakistan. The plan is to make their way to Australia.
This is a story about heartbreak, frustration, persecution, corruption, fear, loss, depression and suicide; a twelve year old girl and her family flee their home, in search of safety, asylum and refuge in Australia, only to be incarcerated upon arrival and treated by the authorities with suspicion and disdain.
But throughout their ordeal we see demonstrated some remarkable examples of courage, resilience, friendship, hope, family unity and love.
After hearing the stories of a group of year eleven students from Iraq and Afghanistan, whose experiences as refugees in their own countries and Australia are so compelling, author Libby Gleeson is moved to record them in a book.
This is a significant work of fiction that is wholly based on truth. It deserves a place on every Australian young person’s reading list. Suitable for late primary and early to mid-secondary school students, it contains a story that needs to be told. There is a wealth of material within its pages for all teachers to draw on for discussion and class work.
Libby Gleeson has done her part – with great tenderness, and never a hint of shying away from the harshness of injustice. Now it is up to the rest of us to put such a well-crafted and important work to good use.