This is a devastating yet beautiful story of a Syrian refugee who watches the world from her window. Her elective mutism is a defence against the traumas of the destruction of her life in her home country and her dangerous journey to the UK. In between flashbacks, the fragile stability of her life in the UK is revealed as racist violence invades her supposedly ‘safe’ space. A powerful and moving read – and much food for thought.
'It's dangerous,' I said. His eyes flicked back to mine, and if he could, I thought, he would have walked over and pulled a bit of hair from under my veil to wind around his finger, tugging at it to tell me how silly he thought I was being.
'They're mad men,' Donya added with a shake of her head, 'running towards explosions, chasing warplanes and helicopters-'
'Saving people,' he said, clenching his fists. 'Saving lives. Diving into rubble to pull them out. Men, women, babies. Who's going to help them? Look outside! There are no ambulances any more. No one is coming for them.'
I took a step towards him. 'Khalid-'
'None of us is going back to school next year. Perhaps not ever. The war is here. The fighting will come closer. It'll get worse. People will die and when the day of judgment comes, we will all have to answer for what we did here, what we did now!' He spread his arms wide and shook his head at me, desperation burning in his eyes. 'What would you have me do, write us a revolution?" he scoffed. 'Shall I write some haunting protest ballad? Some beautiful verses for a glossy magazine? Or maybe a novel where corpses come crawling out of bomb craters, jasmines blooming in eye sockets, vocal chords snapping in the air about how hell is here?'