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Tristan Bancks

Sima and her family are pressed to the rough, cold ground among fifty others. They lie next to the tall fence designed to keep them in. The wires are cut one by one.

When they make their escape, a guard raises the alarm. Shouting, smoke bombs, people tackled to the ground. In the chaos Sima loses her parents. Dad told her to run, so she does, hiding in a school and triggering a lockdown. A boy, Dan, finds her hiding in the toilet block.

What should he do? Help her? Dob her in? She’s breaking the law, but is it right to lock kids up? And if he helps, should Sima trust him? Or run?     



Set within a few hours and with two distinct voices, this is a thrilling story that asks the reader to question their assumptions about asylum seekers. Sima is in a detention centre with her family. After being told they will be deported to Afghanistan that night, her father organises a daring escape with the help of protesters outside. When it goes wrong, Sima tries to make it alone to her uncle’s house in a town far away.

When Dan discovers Sima hiding in the toilet block at his school, he has to decide whether to report her to Border Security, who are prowling the school, or help her.

Tristan Bancks has extensively researched the experiences of asylum seekers and consulted with refugee advocacy groups to make sure he has the circumstances and the legalities right. His characters are strong individuals who have agency and, most importantly, compassion for one another. This is a well-written, well-researched thriller from the author of Two Wolves and The Fall that will appeal to lovers of suspenseful stories aged 11+.

Angela Crocombe is the manager of Readings Kids.

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