I’ll start World Refugee Week with Julia Green’s The House of Light. Set in a grim future, it is still mainly about whether you will stand up for, and help, a refugee looking for a better place than the one they came from.
And maybe you also need a better place, in which case you are a refugee-in-waiting.
Set somewhere on the west coast of Scotland, Bonnie lives with her Granda after her mother left them. It seems her mum had had enough of the enclosed life they were forced into, where everyone is kept track of and no one can leave. At least not when they want to. And since she took their boat, it’s not as if they have the means to leave.
So Bonnie’s excited when she finds an abandoned boat on the beach, but then later also finds the boy who had come in it.
This is a lesson in humanity; what you do about someone who’s not meant to be there, and when you yourself have very little to eat, and you are always cold. But Bonnie’s been brought up right by her Granda, who has every reason to be proud of her.
It’s the kind of situation where you ask yourself what you would do if it happened to you. I don’t know about the washed-up stranger, but the world they live in seems a lot closer right now than any of us would like to think.
Describing a harsh life that you would automatically believe was in the past, it’s a bit of a shock to discover this might be our future. And that all countries are not as bad as this one…