This is a sequel to Boy, Everywhere which told the story of Sami’s journey from a privileged life in Damascus, when his only concern was which new trainers to buy, via a smuggler’s den in Turkey to an immigration prison, and eventually to life in England, but his new life still present challenges. In this second book, Mark’s Mum has won the lottery, bought a lovely new house with a swimming pool, and employed Aadam, also Syrian and living with Sami and his family, as a gardener. The friends love to go there after school, and Mark’s Mum buys them pizza, but their idyll is spoilt when Mark’s Mum’s new boyfriend, Callum, accuses Aadam of stealing and sacks him on the spot. Aadam is attempting to pay a lawyer to negotiate his appeal for an asylum application, so he does need quite a lot of money, but of course he is not a thief. They are all ‘Kicked out’ and Mark is forbidden to associate with his friends. They meet at school anyway, and when they can, and they all decide to help Aadam by raising the money he needs. A chance encounter with a famous footballer turns out to be very useful, and their resourcefulness and thoughtfulness are rewarded when they raise the money Aadam needs. They also discover what really happened to the missing money, and eventually they’re having fun at the pool again.
Another thread is Ali’s story as his dad, with a new family, comes back into his life. When his step-brother starts at Ali’s school, Ali’s feelings become very complicated, and there is some way to go before the situation is resolved. It is rare to find a story about an absent dad in a Muslim, or even a South Asian family, but there are many children growing up without a Dad, for whom this story may resonate.
Another story featuring the friends was Boot It, which tackled racism and bullying, for World Book Day. A.M Dassu writes well and with understanding about these problems, and she is donating a portion of her advances for Kicked Out to BACA, a charity that supports young asylum seekers, and another portion to Syrians who lost everything in the earthquake earlier this year. At the end of this book, she offers suggestions for what readers might do to help, ranging from writing to an M.P. to being aware of the fact that becoming a refugee can happen to anyone, and becoming a ‘School of Sanctuary’.