Looking at the Stars from UK author Jo Cotterill is a wonderfully engrossing novel, with a great power lurking between its lines.
I love Jo Cotterill's novel for her ability to put into words what many of us have seen and heard too times, but have never truly understood ...
... the people behind the term 'refugee'.
Things are changing in Amina's neighbourhood in an unnamed country, where women's rights are somewhat lacking. The Civil War is taking its toll. When the peace keeping force arrive 13 year old Amina is filled with hope. Unfortunately this is short lived. Amina's father is dragged out into the street and shot dead in front of her family by the Kwana. Their family must flee.
Told from Amina's perspective, Cotterill gives a heartfelt and personal angle to a situation most of us have some knowledge of through news headlines alone.
Amina, her sisters and her mother flee to a 'safe' place they have heard of. When her mum and youngest sister get detained at the border, Amina and Jenna are forced to continue without them. Following the steady stream of like minded people, they eventually reach the camp ... where they must learn how to survive in less than ideal conditions.
It is here Amina's imagination, the side of her personality repressed for so long, begins to find an outlet. Her imagination, her ability to weave stories shines through ...
'I gazed up at the stars. They seemed to have a direct connection with my imagination, putting thoughts and words into my head.'
News of her ability to craft wonderful stories spreads swiftly throughout the huge camp, as many swarm to be enlightened and uplifted by Amina's gift.
'imagination could overcome every hardship if you just tried hard enough'
Cotterill carefully contrasts the stark reality of struggling to survive day-to-day, with a sense of hope and wonderment via Amina's stories - a wonderful angle that truly makes Looking at the Stars standout.
Looking at the Stars is a wonderful novel which lingers with the reader long after the final chapters have been devoured.
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Take a peek at Jo's fabulous post too ~ Top Ten Tips for Aspiring Writers - well worth a look.