Looking at the Stars by Jo Cotterill

A very worthy winner of the Coventry Inspiration Book Awards 2016, Hooked on Books category. My book group unanimously voted this as their winner, with all saying they had cried at various points in the story (including the boys).

The story follows Amena and her family through their lives in a civil war torn country, where girls are second class citizens and their headscarves tell their age, and later badges declare their social status. From a loving family home divided by political beliefs and actions to a refuge camp, this book shows how imagination can help buoy human spirit and heal damaged souls.

Make sure you have your tissues ready; as an adult it is a harrowing, yet uplifting read. As for the children in my book group, it raised so many questions about current humanitarian crises. Any book that provokes discuss, questions the world children live in and has them clamouring to turn the page deserves to be on my bookshelf.

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Great for every child from Year 5 up. There are some distressing scenes in the book, which reflect the realities of living in a country divided by civil war; your child may want to discuss them with you.

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