This book is featured in our CBCA Awards 2019 page.
This book is also featured in our Refugees and Displaced People page, a collection of the best books to understand the courage and plight of forced migration, including books for children of stories and issues
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Winner of Book of the Year for Older Readers Award at the 2019 CBCA Awards
Is it possible for two very different teenagers to fall in love despite high barbed-wire fences and a political wilderness between them?
Anahita is passionate, curious and determined. She is also an Iranian asylum seeker who is only allowed out of detention to attend school. On weekdays, during school hours, she can be a 'regular Australian girl'.
Jono needs the distraction of an infatuation. In the past year his mum has walked out, he's been dumped and his sister has moved away. Lost and depressed, Jono feels as if he's been left behind with his Vietnamese single father, Kenny.
Kenny is struggling to work out the rules in his new job; he recently started work as a guard at the Wickham Point Detention Centre. He tells Anahita to look out for Jono at school, but quickly comes to regret this, spiraling into suspicion and mistrust. Who is this girl, really? What is her story? Is she a genuine refugee or a queue jumper? As Jono and Anahita grow closer, Kenny starts snooping behind the scenes…
Review by Sarah McDuling
Between Us is a deeply moving and thoughtfully written story that explores the lives of asylum seekers in Australia. It’s the kind of story that really needs to be told more often. It put in mind books like The Bone Sparrow and When Michael Met Mina in that it uses poignant and evocative storytelling to cast a spotlight on the issues of immigration and multiculturalism – in particular the treatment of asylum seekers in this country.
Between Us doesn’t pull any punches. Clare Atkins is unfailingly and sometimes brutally honest, which is what makes this story so powerful. This is a heartbreaking portrayal of what life is like for detainees and also touches on the impact that working in these inhumane places can have on people. It wades into all the messy grey areas and never offers any rose-coloured viewpoints. The characters are layered and nuanced, lovable and relatable, fallible and most of all very human.
Set in Darwin, this is the story of Ana – an Iranian asylum seeker who is permitted to leave the Wickham Point Detention Centre on weekdays to attend school – and Jono, a Vietnamese Australian boy whose father works as a guard at the detention centre.
When Ana and Jono meet and become close, Jono’s father grows concerned. After all, what does he really know about Ana and her family? Can she be trusted? Does he really want his son associating with an Iranian refugee?
Between Us is a very raw and emotional read that made me cry more than once. The writing switches between prose and verse which gives it a lyrical quality that is truly beautiful to read. Full of complex and deftly drawn characters, it tells a moving story that will hit you hard and stay with you long after the book is over.
Perfect for fans of Melina Marchetta, Cath Crowley, Alice Pung and Fiona Wood.
An urgent, compelling and transcendent love story for our times. ” -
“ I want everyone to read this book right now. ” -
“ A beautiful, raw and timely book. ” -