Boy, Everywhere is a story about Sami, a young Syrian boy, who loves his life and enjoys living in Damascus. Then out of the blue his mother and sister go to a shopping mall to pick up Sami’s new football boots and a bomb goes off. His mother and sister survive but his sister stops talking (from the shock) and all of a sudden Sami’s perfect life is turned upside down. His father (a successful surgeon) gives up everything to get his family out of the country. They sell what they can and start the terrifying journey of trying to get to the UK.
It is a story which shows the sharp contrast of their once comfortable life to the life of misery as they try to get into the UK and then a life of being dirt poor once they get the UK. It is a story which shows that the people leaving the country are often professional, well educated people but once they get here they can often not use their qualifications and end up working as cleaners. It shows how living through something like bombs being dropped can emotional damage kids, how being torn from their home and extended family can be terrifying and then when they get to somewhere safe they often don’t feel safe. It is eye-opening and it is in parts scary and sad because the author does not shy away from the realities of what being a refugee means. The book deals with being stuck in a small room and then the back of a lorry with complete strangers, of climbing into an unstable boat to cross the channel, of tent city, of living all cramped together in one room where people don’t want you around and of trying to fit in at a new school and in a new country. The author deals with all of that and deals with it in a very real manner but at the same time there is hope woven in.
I liked the fact that the author wrote the story from Sami’s perspective, I think it makes it more realistic and believable for kids reading it. It is a book that I will be including on my son’s reading list but I probably will include it more towards the end of his Year 7 or beginning of his Year 8. I will not be suggesting this book to my daughter because she is highly sensitive to stories, where families are endangered in some way and I think she would struggle with this.
Boy, Everywhere is part of the Rollercoaster series published by Oxford University Press aimed at kids in KS3. This means it comes with a free resources pack which you can download from their website. We have used a number of these packs in the past and I have always found them very useful when we do a book unit. Included in the pack you get a scheme of work and a summary of each chapter (this is incredible useful if you do not pre-read the book as you can pre-read these pages and get a good understanding of the story).
Then there are lesson plans. I don’t always follow the suggested lesson plans but I do have a look at them because they do include some great ideas on English activities which you can link to the story and often a suggestion in a lesson plans ends up being a starting point for a mini-project.
Then for each lesson there is normally an attached resource, and these resources vary. One of the reasons that I like these packs is that the resources are always different, it is never a case of the exact same resource for every book, they always make sure the resources suit the themes of the book.
And there are also suggested answers.
Boy, Everywhere is an excellent story for slightly older kids to read but it is an emotional story. I would recommend it for most kids but I would suggest parents of highly sensitive kids give it a read first.
Admin – About a month ago Oxford University Press sent us a few books for us to read and possibly write reviews on. This book was one of the ones that really struck me, the story is one which needs to be told and one which our kids need to read about and this story has done it with sensitivity that allows kids to really get involved and learn about a scary topic. All opinions expressed about the book are mine. I was NOT paid for this post