Saturday 30 May 2020

When Stars Are Scattered

Finished May 23
When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed

This children's graphic novel for older kids tells the story of Omar and his younger brother Hassan. The two are refugees from Somalia. Omar was with his father in the fields of their farm when some men came to talk to his father and he saw his father killed. He knew his mother was coming with the lunch for them, and ran to meet her. She had Hassan with her, and she left the two, telling them to go home and she would come back for them. But she never did. One of their older female neighbours took the two young boys with the rest of the people fleeing the village, and the boys eventually made it to the refugee camp in Kenya that they are living in as the book begins.
They were both malnourished and ill, but have recovered. They live in a hut across from the hut of an older woman, Futuma, who has been assigned to be their foster mother. Hassan is developmentally disabled in an undefined way. He is a mostly cheerful and friendly boy, who has had occasional seizures, and who only speaks one word: Hooyo. It is not until near the end of the book that you understand the significance of this one word.
Omar is very protective of his brother, who can be the target of others, and here he gradually finds himself able to leave Hassan with Fatuma during the day and go to school with his friends. He hopes at first to return to his farm, and eventually sets his sights on a different, more possible future. The support of his best friend, Fatuma, teachers, and social workers help him to find a way forward and a new life for himself.
This is a good book to show the realities of life in a refugee camp and the barriers that must be overcome to make it out of the camp to a more hopeful future.

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