Looking At The Stars

Jo Cotterill

looking at the starsAmina’s homeland has been ravaged by war for many months, but so far they are safe, together. When a so-called liberating force arrives in the country, the family think their prayers for peace will soon be answered, but they are horribly wrong. The country is thrown into yet further turmoil and Amina’s family is devastated. Her elder brother is accused of being a ringleader in a rebel group and goes into hiding. Her father is then killed for apparently protecting him. The women of the family—Amina, her two sisters, and their mother—have no choice but to leave their home town, along with thousands of others, and head for a refugee camp. But there are even more challenges ahead

I loved this book, it is so honest and innocent but at the same time it is powerful and heart-breaking.

Amina Ambrose lives in Talas, an unsteady Dictatorship country on an unknown continent. The army who run it are called the Kwana and it is starting to exploit its power over the people in Amina’s country. They have made rules in the country that are unjust, such as making females wearing headscarves and men having the power over the women and boys having power over the girls. A revolution is needed to save the country. Amina is about 14; she has an amazing imagination-brilliant for making up stories and telling them to her family. She lives with her Mother-Mamie, her Father-Potta, her older brother-Ruman, her sister, who is a year older-Jenna and her little sister-Vivie.

Kwana have bought in a new rule: ‘Depending on your status or your family’s status you will be given a letter of heritage which you will have to wear at all times’. The letters of heritage determine your rank in life so if a family member was part of the Kwana you would be a letter A. The highest rank is a letter A. Amina’s family is an H. These letters were turning friends against friends and brother against brother. A family friend mysteriously disappeared and on their door was painted the letter Q.

Things started to look very bad. People were being shot, many were punished for saying anything bad against the Kwana and after school one day Ruman decided that he wasn’t going to have it anymore and left to join an underground Rebel movement. Even at night Amina could hear her parents whispering things like: “we’ve got to tell them, sooner or later they’re going to find out”…

War had broken out between the Kwana and an invading country to help save the people of Amina’s country. In the dead of night the Kwana broke into Amina’s house demanding to know where Ruman was. The family didn’t know so in the end the Kwana dragged them out of the house and tried to get answers. Amina tried to lie to save her family but still there was a devastating outcome.

There was no way that Amina’s family could remain in Talas so they left-and got stuck at a checkpoint. The Kwana were examining identification papers to see if they could leave. Sadly Amina’s family had trouble at the checkpoint (by the way, I’m not saying what happened because I don’t want to give it away!) and now Jenna and Amina had lost Vivie and Mamie! Can you guess what happens to the Ambrose family? Read the book to find out!

Verdict: I think this book was a real eye-opener to the wars ravaging other countries in the world. It shows peoples genuine struggle to stay alive and I thought it was a very good book and it was very interesting.

Reviewed by Daisy (13)

Click HERE to read author Jo Cotterill’s fabulous guest post about why boys should read books about girls.

Publisher: Random House Children’s
Publication Date: February 2014
Format: Hardback
Pages: 288
Genre: War
Age: Middle grade
Reviewer: Daisy (13)
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book
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