By Author / Illustrator
A. M. Dassu
Representation & Inclusion
Old Barn Books
Paperback / softback
This debut middle-grade novel chronicles the harrowing journey taken by Sami and his family from privilege to poverty, across countries and continents, from a comfortable life in Damascus, via a smuggler's den in Turkey, to a prison in Manchester. A story of survival, of family, of bravery ... In a world where we are told to see refugees as the 'other', this story will remind readers that 'they' are also 'us'.
Boy, Everywhere charts the perilous journey from Damascus, Syria to Manchester for Sami and his family.
13-year-old Sami loves his friends, football, PlayStation and iPad. But a bombing in a shopping mall changes his life and Sami and his family flee their comfortable home in Damascus to make the perilous and painful journey towards a new life in the UK. Leaving everything behind, Sami discovers a world he'd never encountered - harsh and dangerous but at times unexpectedly kind and hopeful.
Sami is the perfect voice for this novel, he is relatable, likeable and above all realistic. He holds himself responsible for the fact that his mother and sister were caught up in a bombing in a shopping mall and as a result his sister, Sara, won't speak. As a direct result of this and due to the continuing unrest in Damascus, the family flee Syria and head to the UK where they plan to settle with family. Sami has to leave behind his best friend Joseph and his beloved Tete (grandma). His baba (father) has sold everything they own - house, car, possessions to fund the journey which proves to be harrowing beyond belief. I don't want to give anything away but it includes smugglers, boats, money, immigration, detention centres, violence, racism, homelessness and so much more.
Boy, Everywhere is heartbreaking, beautiful, uplifting and devastating in equal measure and although it's a work of fiction, it reads like a true account which is testament to the wonderful research and storytelling of AM Dassu. She chronicles the beauty and devastation, sights and sounds, friendships and relationships in stunning vivid detail, so much so that you honestly feel that you are living every moment alongside Sami.
All of the characters depicted throughout are just perfect, all of them are real and not one feels misplaced - even down to the violent, gold chain wearing thug that Sami and his baba encounter at the detention centre.
The rules, laws and processes are discussed in enough detail to give the reader an understanding of what refugees have to go through in order to seek asylum here in the UK. The people in authority that Sami and his family meet are helpful, kind and genuinely on their side.
Get this into the hands of anyone and everyone you can. There is empathy in bucketfuls oozing from this book and the discussion topics are endless.
There are books you read that you think are fantastic and then there are those you read that you feel privileged to have the opportunity to review - this is absolutely one of those books. I have thought about it continuously since I finished it and will champion it for a very long time to come.
I can't wait to read more from AM Dassu. A truly stunning debut.
288 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Lucy Georgeson, school librarian
Suggested Reading Age 11+