Thursday, 4 May 2017
The Jungle by Pooja Puri
The Jungle is a book about one of the most troubling issues affecting huge swathes of the World today, the movement of thousands of souls trying to escape poverty, despots or early death in the direct path of armed conflict.
What makes this book all the more important is that this is a book written for children and young Adults about Children. Set in The Jungle, the squalid camp in Calais where the refugees from many war torn regions congregated in the hope of reaching the United Kingdom, this is the story of a young boy as he waits for something, anything at all , to change to allow him to escape to England.
This is an unflinching examination of the duality of existence in a refugee camp, within spitting distance of the civilised lives of French neighbours and yet people are cramped in crude tents, fighting boredom, discrimination and each other to stay alive but fighting too to stay themselves, striving to be individuals in a crowd. A feat in itself for adults, you might think, but even harder for children.
Pooja Puri does a tremendous job in avoiding morality judgements or political bias, she just delivers a startling vignette in the lives of two children brought together in adversity, trying to be adults, dealing with brutality and deprivation years before their time, living on hope and bravado. This is a book that will stay with me for a long time.