A refugee, Subhi lives with his sister Queenie and their mother, who grows more and more despondent as the days go on.
Subhi finds refuge in his friend Eli, who runs a smuggling operation under the guards' noses. He also likes Harvey, the only guard, or "Jacket" as they are called, that treats the people in the detention centre anything close to human.
Subhi's only hope is that his father will someday return.
One night, his life changes when he's visited from someone on the other side of the fence. Her name is Jimmie and she asks Subhi to read her stories, stories that were written by her mother who has since passed away.
Jimmie's father works double shifts, her older brother Jonah is tasked with taking care of her but he's a teenager and isn't ready to be a parent.
In Subhi, Jimmie finds a friend, someone she can sit and listen to and remember what it was like before her life fell apart. For Subhi, Jimmie represents a fascinating glimpse of the outside world, plus she brings him hot chocolate which doesn't hurt.
Things come to a head when members of the detention centre stage a hunger strike to protest the awful living conditions they face. Subhi finds himself caught between two worlds and has to make decisions that no child should make.
I really loved the writing in this book, I thought it was an authentic take on how a child would cope with the horrendous life that has been thrust upon them.
It's an important book because it brings to light something that we tend to ignore in the West, the plight of refugees and the conditions they face in areas such as Australia. I recommend this book to ages 12 and up!