Review Blog

Oct 09 2013

Amina by J. L. Powers

cover image

Through my eyes series. Allen & Unwin, 2013. ISBN 9781743312490.
(Age: 11+) Warmly recommended. Children in war, Somali. As the tale of Amina unfolds, we become aware of her background as she and her family eke out a living in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. The country has been torn into two pieces by terrorism and war, brought about by the right wing Islamist group, al-Shabaab. Amina's father is an artist, but one who draws ire from the ruling party, because he dares to portray the living form, and depicts some political comment about the situation in this home city.
We are made aware of the instability of their situation when one day soldiers burst into their house demanding to see their father. Amina's pregnant mother sends the girl to the mosque to fetch her father, packing necessities into a bag, but the soldiers return, taking him away. The problem comes to the surface, whether to flee or wait and see if he returns. The next day Anima and her brother are sent to search for information about their father's whereabouts, but the brother is kidnapped, leaving Anima and her mother and ailing grandmother alone and without help.
The image of a family growing up in Somalia is wonderfully shown, their customs and way of life presented naturally as the background, their fear of the militant Islamists ever present. Children will eagerly follow Amina's journey as she tries to make sense of her world, one which is far removed from the safe world we inhabit. A teacher's guide is available.
Fran Knight

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