Title: Boy Everywhere
Author: A. M. Dassu
Date: Tu Books, 2021
Main character: Sami al-Hafez
Sami’s mother is a school principal, and his father is a doctor. His friends’ parents drive Bentleys. His family has a chauffeur. Sami has his own iPad, and cell phone, and he’s ready for those Adidas Predators to accompany the Air Jordans in his closet. Even with all the ‘things’, Sami is like most thirteen-year-olds who haven’t realized yet that the world doesn’t revolve around him. So, when his mom and younger sister are involved in an explosion in a shopping mall in their hometown, Damascus, Syria, Sami’s pretty sure it’s his fault. His sister, Sarah is so severely traumatized by the event that the family decides to leave the country. His father sells all their possessions, and they get on a plane that takes them safely to Turkey. There’s no explanation why the family couldn’t fly to another destination from there, why they then had to take the remainder of the perilous journey to London by boat.
The voyage isn’t easy, and there is danger along the way. The family does find kind people who help them once they make it to their destination because Sami’s father is a doctor, and they have family in London. The story is unusual in that it informs readers about a wealthy family leaving Syria and the privileges they experience that most do not. Life is like that, isn’t it?
Even thought he kindnesses they really stand out in the story, one cannot miss how war, and immigration can erode our basic human rights, no matter how privileged we think our lives may be. This is a very different take on refugees.
A. M. Dassu won the 2017 We Need Diverse Books Mentorship Award. She was born and raised in London where she began writing at the age of eight. Boy Everywhere has won numerous awards including Calderdale Book of the Year 2021; SCBWI Crystal Kite Award and the York Book Award 2022. Her next book, Fight Back will release in the US this October.