Mahtab's Story

Libby Gleeson

Mahtab's Story
Allen & Unwin
1 May 2008

Mahtab’s Story

Libby Gleeson

Mahtab was empty. She felt hungry–for water, for her father, for her grandmother, her aunts and uncles, for the trees in the back yard, the cabinet on the wall, the silver and glass objects so lovingly collected, for her mountains, the jagged peaks that cut the sky.

Her father was dead. She felt sure of it. She was just a speck of dirt on the floor, drifting through the gap between the boards, falling to the ground.

Mahtab and her family are forced to leave their home in Herat and journey secretly through the rocky mountains to Pakistan and from there to faraway Australia. Months go by, months of waiting, months of dread. Will they ever be reunited with their father, will they ever find a home?

This compelling novel by one of Australia’s best-loved children’s authors is based on the true story of one girl’s voyage to Australia with her family.

‘An important, eye-opening book.’ Deborah Ellis

‘Kept me turning pages and holding my amazing story that me and all of my friends love.’ - Inez, 12


Inspired by Libby Gleeson’s meeting with a group of Year 11 students from Iraq and Afghanistan, this novel about a young refugee and her family is a gripping and enlightening read. It is not only the dramatic story of flight and family separation and danger that enthralls, but also the discomfort of having to be always quiet and hidden, boredom, and the dreaded effects of losing hope. It brings home how life in Australia offers such new and wonderful freedom and such scarey challenges. Highly recommended for 11 to 15 years-ish.

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