By Miriam Halahmy (Meadowside Fiction)
What can one young girl do in the face of ignorance and prejudice? How do we work out what’s right and wrong in an increasingly complex world? In Hidden, Alix is a nearly fifteen-year-old girl who lives on a quiet island in Britain. Her dad has deserted them, her grandfather has recently died and her mum is battling alone and with a broken leg. Alix’s thoughts are filled with self-pity as she has to help her mum run the house, wonder where her dad and his new girlfriend, Gorgeous Gloria, are and deal with the fact that she is one of the few girls in her school who apparently doesn’t have a boyfriend. Plus her best friend Kim has become increasingly distant since Alix became friendly with Samir – the new muslim boy in school.
Then one cold and misty morning on the beach she and Samir find themselves saving a drowning man. Muhammed is an undocumented Iraqi immigrant escaping torture and seeking asylum. Surrounded by the local people’s open hostility to muslims and fear of terrorism their attempt to hide him from harm is a challenge they may not be up to. This is a well-timed book about immigrants and Islamophobia and it attempts to bring the issues to life in a way teens can relate to. Although it’s over earnest at times with predictable cliches and the run of thoughts in Alix’s head feels exhausting – the local jargon and colour make it believable. With Brexit and the increase in prejudice, racism and judgement around the world we need more books on such topical issues.