Where I Belong by Gillian Cross

“There are guns and bandits in this story. And supermodels. And there’s drought and starvation, too.

Does that bother you? Are you wondering how they can all come together? Well, that’s how life is these days. Things don’t happen neatly, in separate little places. We’re all linked together by e-mails and phones and the great spider’s web of media that spans the world.

That’s where this story is set. The world. It’s the story of Abdi and Khadija and Freya (that’s me),and what happened to us because of Somalia . . . “

Gillian Cross is a prolific British children’s and young adult author. She won the 1990 Carnegie Medal for her book Wolf, and the 1992 Whitbread Children’s Book Award for her novel The Great Elephant Chase. And I had never heard of her nor of any of her books.

Her latest book, Where I Belong, is wonderful story about two Somalian immigrants in London and their encounter with the world of high fashion and supermodels. Khadija, a young Somali who has been sent to England to get and education and help her family, becomes Qarsoon the Hidden One, a model for the famous fashion designer Sandy Dexter, but Khadija, and her guardian the fourteen year old Abdi, are both unaware of how small the world has become and how events in London can impact events in Somalia almost overnight.

I like books that give me a window into other cultures and into communities that I don’t know much about, and this book does both. I got a glimpse of Somali culture and of the world of high fashion. The suspense and characterization were obviously written by a master author. I’m ready to find some more books by Ms. Cross and check this new-to-me juvenile fiction writer. Has anyone else read any of her books?

Oh, and isn’t that cover photograph fantastic?

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