Run for Your Life

Little Island. Jan. 2023. 256p. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781912417858.
Gr 4-7–Azari must rebuild her life and re-learn how to love it after fleeing her home country following a horrible tragedy. She and her mother come to Ireland as asylum seekers, where they are relocated to government housing called Direct Provision Centres. There they will stay while waiting for word on their asylum application with other refugees. So much has changed in Azari’s life that she barely recognizes it anymore; author Mitchell juxtaposes some of the common themes in Azari’s life in alternating chapters of her past and present. She’s back in school (where she has a much harder time making friends than she did back home), she can run again (she was pulled out of school and running club once she got her first period), there is no family she can lean on (no sister or brothers anymore), and now she is responsible for her mother, not the other way around. Azari is at once a child, longing for the familiar, and an adult coming to realize that she never wants to go back. Mitchell eloquently humanizes Azari’s asylum seeker struggle with haunting passages that will make readers empathize with Azari and her quest to discover who she is now while also coming to terms with how she got here. An addendum adds more insight into what Direct Provision is and some of its issues for unfamiliar readers.
VERDICT A compassionate look at the asylum seeker system in Ireland through the eyes of a teen girl. First purchase.

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