Touch the Sun is the story of a thirteen-year-old boy and his younger sister, who live in Somalia. Their parents are dead, and they live in poor conditions with their aunt Rahama. Early in the story Rahama is apparently killed because she is a journalist who works to spread accurate accounts of the activities of a terrorist group called al-Shabaab. Knowing her life is in danger she passes on sensitive information to her nephew. However, this puts his life in danger and he must find a way for himself and his sister to escape. Through some helpful neighbours the boy and his sister manage to make their way to Nairobi and the United Nations Camp. But even here they are not safe. They have a contact in Australia, but how to get there? Many obstacles stand in the way, such as, a desert, people smugglers, a leaky boat, will they make it to Australia?
The boy’s name isn’t revealed because the story is written in the second person as a “choose-your-own-adventure.” The reader must make choices so writing in the second person makes the choices more realistic, but it also makes it rather clumsy.
While this is a fictional story, it uses many real-life situations. The best choice in many of the scenarios is not obvious, and the wrong choice may lead to abandonment or death, often in violent ways. For this reason I don’t think the book is suitable for primary school children and could even be disturbing for young teenagers. Unfortunately though the story relates what is reality for many children living in Somalia.
The story moves at a good pace, though is quite long-winded but perhaps this is because, as a reviewer, I read all the alternatives. It would be a little easier and quicker for a young reader. However, it would not be possible to get through the book without encountering some disturbing violence.
Following the story Emily Conolan has included additional information about Somalia, refugees, asylum seekers and people smugglers.
Thanks to Christian School Supplier for providing a free book for review.