From just the book title and cover, it's not difficult to guess the target audience - younger female readers, probably around 8-14 years old. However, both genders will identify with the difficulties the two central characters face, and the way they overcome their respective challenges.
The story follows Jaz, a headstrong Year 7 pupil who often finds herself isolated from her friendship group, and who often lets her dyslexia frustrate herself further. Jaz feels she’s lost her best friend Lily to Kara, a girl in her class who doesn’t seem to like her too much – and the feeling is mutual. But when a new girl named Nadima arrives at her school, Jaz has someone to sit next to again. Nadima doesn’t speak much English. However, with a little chocolate to break the ice, an instant bond develops between the two girls. And when Jaz learns about the heartbreaking experiences Nadima and her family have gone through, she is determined to be a good friend. However, Jaz’s headstrong nature inadvertently leads Nadima into trouble. And although they are able to put the incident behind them, Jaz does something else that threatens to destroy what they had. Can she fix it? Or has she lost another best friend?
The book does well with the child-friendly insight into the traumatic experiences that refugees go through. As the story rolls to a conclusion, Chapter 49 depicts a heartbreaking drama presentation of ‘Nadima’s Story’ that the two central characters deliver. This is extremely poignant as we know thousands of people have gone through, and are still going through, similar experiences in war-torn countries around the world. Stories like this are great at breaking barriers and raising awareness, and readers who have gone through something similar to Jaz will resonate with the character’s experiences (i.e. welcoming children from another country who are new to their school; Jaz’s struggles with coping with dyslexia; not having a father around; etc.) Additionally, readers will relate to the angst and anxiety associated with growing up, with fitting in, with teen/pre-teen tantrums, and the challenges of negotiating the perils and pitfalls of school life. There are a few improbable scenarios, but overall, the book is good read.