So the new school term has started and it's back to work - new classes to get to know, new texts to teach, new colleagues to befriend. Thankfully, there are also lots of new books to read - including one by my alter-ego, Alex Day. The Missing Twin is a sensational and compelling page-turner of a psychological thriller. It's very much a work of fiction but based around a very real fact of 21st century life - the story of the millions of people around the world who are fleeing their homeland, whether due to war, persecution, hunger or poverty.
I'm so gratified that so many reviewers have bonded with refugee Fatima and her twin daughters, and have written about how the book has brought to their attention the terrible plight the real Fatimas of the world find themselves in - alone, homeless and running for their lives.
I based a lot of Fatima's story around what I heard from Syrian children I taught in my first teaching job in North London. They had heartrending stories of loss and in many cases had obviously been left utterly traumatised. The father of one such child said to me, through a translator, the exact words that Fatima hears from one of the many people smugglers she meets along her journey - that God decides who survives and who does not, and that one can do nothing but pray for survival and to be treated kindly by fate. The smugglers take no responsibility for the safety and well-being of those they are purportedly 'helping' - for a large fee - but it shocks me that my own country is also taking precious little responsibility for those in need. Surely we could find it in our hearts to welcome those who have gone through so much in their efforts to get out of terrible situations alive?
The other main character in the book, Edie, is terribly misunderstood, poor girl. Some readers totally get her, but others cannot see beyond her rather immature and selfish facade. The point about Edie is that her psychological problems dog her throughout and it's only by the end of the book, when she has been through a life-changing experience and had to surpass her own expectations of what she can do, that she matures into a new and better person.
MetLineReader on Amazon sums it up beautifully: 'A fast-paced tale with darker elements of intrigue, distrust and secrets... Edie is a more complex character than initially thought and the story of Fatima shows strength of character and what tragedies these refugees have to overcome.'
Why not read it yourself and find out what you think?
THE MISSING TWIN: https://goo.gl/yK9KXL
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