Review Blog

Sep 21 2015

The truth about peacock blue by Rosanne Hawke

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Allen & Unwin, 2015. ISBN 9781743319949
(Age: 13+) Highly recommended. Pakistan Social justice, Religious freedom, Imprisonment, Women's roles. South Australia's Rosanne Hawke is an accomplished writer presenting points of view not often heard in children's literature, engaging the reader with stories of children in frighteningly real situations beyond our safe island, presenting the perspective of people of other religions and backgrounds. Her novels overflow with stories of oppressed children in situations so dire that the reader cannot help but read through to the end, comparing their safe life with that of the protagonist.
This is such a read: harrowing, confrontational, pulling no punches, as Rosanne presents us with a fourteen year old girl incarcerated in a Pakistani prison for the crime of blasphemy. Crowds are stirred up outside her prison walls, calling for her death, while legal rights activists and friends try to stir the world's conscience and support this young girl.
This story raises so many issues: the age of a prisoner, her vulnerability to the sexual attentions of guards, her victimistion by those inside prison who see her as a blasphemer, the ease with which crowds become lynch mobs. In Pakistan the government and legal system are not separate from religion, and because she is a Christian in a strongly Muslim country she is especially vulnerable.
The internet proves to be a powerful tool in acquainting the word of her plight. People rally to sign a petition, write letters, and offer support, but when her social justice lawyer is shot and killed, her fate seems sealed.
This is a engrossing story of one girl's plight, based upon a true story and paralleling that of Malala, the young woman shot in Pakistan in 2012, and is sure to raise gasps from those who read with growing unease and incredulity at people's restrictions in this modern age.
Fran Knight

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