The plight of child refugees

no safe place TITLE = NO SAFE PLACE

AUTHOR = Deborah Ellis

GENRE = Growing up, Survival, War, Refugees

INTEREST LEVEL = Years 8 and up

This is another powerful novel from an acclaimed author, Deborah Ellis. Once again Ellis brings the spotlight to bear on injustices in the world and how they impact on children’s lives. In this novel, she moves her focus to Europe and tells the stories of 3 young teens, from varied backgrounds, who have been brought together as refugees struggling to find safe passage to England, where they hope they will find the safety and security that they have failed to find in their homelands. Abdul has seen first hand the toll the war in Iraq takes on innocent families, women and children. Rosalia is escaping the harsh life of a Roma child sold into prostitution and Cheslav, too, has been abandoned in Russia when his Mum sought a new life as a mail order bride. All 3 children have learned how to survive against the most horrific of circumstances and this makes them cautious about trusting others, even each other. The first half of the novel is especially powerful as it conveys the harsh life of a refugee child and the skill and stamina needed just to stay alive. We learn about each child’s back story via flashbacks which allows the reader to sympathise with each of the children. However, some of the action in the second half of the novel seems a little too tidy and convenient (especially in the children’s ability to steer a large yacht) so the sense of compelling action is diminished. Perhaps not Ellis’ best work but still this novel provides an eye opener to world events that Aussie children may know little about. Those who have enjoyed reading the Parvana trilogy will find this novel to be a worthy and interesting read.

Read more about Deborah Ellis and her books on her publisher’s website

Recommended (dma) ****