Reviews /

Kicked Out : A Boy, Everywhere story

Authored by A.M. Dassu
Published by Old Barn Books

Tagged , , ,

Almost 3 years ago, A.M. Dassu’s debut novel, Boy, Everywhere, was released. Every review I read sang its praises, and reading it met all expectations. Detailing the misfortune of a privileged family in Syria and their journey to the UK to seek refuge, we met Sami and his family, and Aadam, another young refugee in need of support.

A World Book Day title earlier this year – Boot It! – revisited Sami at his secondary school, and dealt head on with the theme of racism as Sami and his friend Ali joined the school football team.

Kicked Out still features Sami, but the main protagonist this time is his friend Ali. Ali, Sami, and newly wealthy Mark, are looking forward to school finishing, and a long summer holiday beginning. Aadam is still on the scene, working hard and earning money wherever he can as he awaits the decision of the Home Office to accept his application of asylum.

The boys’ dreams of a trouble-free summer are soon quashed when Aadam’s application is refused, and Mark’s mum’s boyfriend, Callum, accuses Aadam of stealing from them. It is here when Ali and Sami decide to intervene and make a positive difference, deciding to host a football fund-raiser in order to support Aadam’s legal appeal.

This fund-raiser is at the heart of the story, with both Ali and Sami putting all of their effort into supporting their friend. The school backs up their idea too, but the villainous Nathan, the bully from Boot It, is still making his presence known.

Alongside this story is Ali’s personal life, as his previously absent father returns on the scene with his own family, and this leads Ali to question what he really wants. This insight into family life, and how families come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, would be welcomed in all classrooms, but perhaps more apparent is the outpouring of allyship for the marginalised, which, in this case, is Aadam, a refugee.

For my money, there cannot be enough stories for children of all ages that show the real hardship that refugees face. We have recently seen graphic novels like Eoin Colfer’s Illegal and Victoria Jamieson’s When Stars Are Scattered, picture books such as Nicola Davies’ The Day War Came or Francesca Sanna’s The Journey, and chapter books from Onjali Q. Rauf (The Boy at the Back of the Class) and Zoulfa Katouh (As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow). Dassu’s stories, like the ones mentioned above, humanise the arduous experiences that many refugees face, not just in terms of having to leave their own homes, but also when they arrive – in the instance of Sami and Aadam – in the UK. The current political narrative is rightly referred to in the book, helping readers to realise that refugees are real, and human, and hurting. The hurt doesn’t stop when they arrive – racism, and sometimes even government policy, will likely rear its head, and the allyship shown by Mark in particular is heartwarming. There is good in the world.

The boys’ football fund-raiser is given a slightly convenient helping hand, but overall, this is another powerful read which will hopefully put fire in the bellies of young readers and speak up against the headlines we often see about refugees. People matter. This book will help readers in Y5 and above understand that ever more clearly.