The boy with two lives by Abbas Kazerooni
Allen & Unwin, 2015. ISBN: 9781743314838
Highly recommended. A moving memoir, The Boy With Two Lives is a tale of struggle and overcoming even the most dire of circumstances. A sequel to On two feet and wings, it follows Abbas through his English education after escaping conscription into the Iranian army. He travelled alone through Istanbul and to England where his immigration status would be dependent on his having a legal guardian. Unfortunately his new life is not anything that he could have expected.
The story starts on Abbas' first day at boarding school where everything is unfamiliar and strange. Abbas learns quickly to do as he's told else he'll quickly fall behind. While excelling at school, Abbas' time away from Aymestrey is spent in misery and isolation. While his English improves rapidly, he is forced to work in Mehdi's kitchen illegally to pay Mehdi back for his education.
As Abbas gets older it seems that the whole world is set against him. He loses his mother and soon after, Kate's mother, Nancy, the next best thing. Abbas finds himself again, completely alone, in a foreign country. With nothing to his name, he finds himself spiralling deeper and deeper into depression. But the hardest times are yet to come as he finishes with Aymestrey and gains an assisted place at King's School as a day student. He soon ends up broke, broken and living on the streets, the ever-present threat of deportation looming overhead like his own personal rain-cloud.
This book made me laugh at times, but mostly cry. That this is a memoir is only more hard-hitting. I would highly recommend this novel to anyone as it demonstrates the hard-ships that some refugees have to face and the struggle of coming into a completely foreign world. It is both eye opening and heartbreaking to see both Abbas' pride and courage at work as he tries to make the most of his new life.
Kayla Gaskell (age 19)