A Kurdish refugee tells the story of her family’s constant threat of imprisonment and deportation when asylum is denied following their illegal journey from a village in eastern Turkey to England.
Fourteen-year-old Meltem recounts her incredibly precarious and tension-failed life, beginning with her early childhood on her parents’ pistachio farm. Their once-peaceful and productive existence is interrupted by the beating of her father by Turkish soldiers. His eventual escape to Germany leads Meltem and her mother to follow, with some underground help and the assistance of the German social services. Their arrival in England complicates their asylum application, because their escape involved coming through another country. The constant movement—in and out of apartments, transitions to several schools, detainment, even imprisonment—and the final loss of her father to cancer culminate in some serious psychological problems for this child, who openly exhibits anxiety and depression. Loose watercolors against pale green backgrounds, some with folk-art borders, occasionally complemented by photographic inserts, depict the family and their continually changing situation. Robinson’s text is blunt and often choppy, reflecting the girl’s voice in her newly acquired English. Meltem’s plight ends on a positive tone with official permission to stay in England providing some stability through a new high school, friends and the dream of becoming a doctor.
Starkly realistic and eye-opening, if emotionally difficult. (facts about Kurdistan, historical note) (Informational picture book. 8-12)