Amina is lost. She is trying to find where she belongs. She is trying to find her mother, but she doesn't know where to look:
'I don't know where to start,' Amina said.
'Begin at the beginning,' Paul said.
'There wasn't a beginning,' Amina said. 'I don't remember it. I don't know how I got here. I don't know where I came from. I don't remember anything before Auntie Victoria's. I only know what she told me.'
Well, that would be bad enough for me. I think, in the beginning, your identity is given to you by your family and the place you live in and belong to.
So, even though Amina lives comfortably enough with her Auntie Victoria, somewhere in Dover, she desperately needs to find her real family, her mother, to find out who she really is. I can understand that. I think anyone would feel the same.
But Amina has another problem, which I find more difficult to imagine:
I remember running,' Amina said. 'I do remember that. My feet were all cut and bleeding when Auntie Victoria found me. That's what she said. I dream about it sometimes. Auntie Victoria said she'd heard about a boatload of refugees landing during the night. The police had caught them and they'd been locked up. Cos they were illegal. She said I must have escaped somehow and found my way to her house. It was quite near the sea. Perhaps I was so small they didn't notice me in the dark.'
'Are you illegal then?' Paul asked.
'I suppose so. I feel like I'm illegal anyway.'
I really find it hard to imagine how nightmarish it must be to feel that every time you walk out into the street you might be scooped up by the police and locked up ... to flee from one nightmare in your own country to another kind of nightmare in another country.
Can Amina find out who she really is? You'll have to read the book. It might help you think about some important things.
What can I read next?
If you are interested in reading about refugees you might like to look at these books by Deborah Ellis about a young girl surviving in war-torn Afghanistan:
- The Breadwinner
- Parvana's Journey
Or you could look at this one by Judith Kerr about a Jewish family fleeing from Germany just before the outbreak of the Second World War:
Or you could see what Zlata wrote in her diary. She lived in Sarajevo during the civil war in Yugoslavia:
Also, the Bookchooser has found these books with a similar profile: