Amy-May is aged eleven. Her parents have just conducted an angry divorce. Witnessing her mother and father fight has given Amy-May a severe condition. She is unable to attend the mainstream secondary school for which she was intended and instead has to attend the Sandcastle Support Centre, a centre for pupils who are unable to attend mainstream school. Throughout the book the centre is referred to as Grace’s Art House, after the name of the woman who manages it.
Amy-May meets a Syrian refugee girl named Rima, who is there with her family. Brahmachari’s book describes the developing relationship between the two girls and their individual attempts to combat anxiety.
The book deals with two important subjects, one of which this reviewer has not seen handled with such compassion for young readers, namely school refusal. The second subject, which is increasingly visible in children’s literature, is the daunting reality that confronts refugees from war zones such as Syria. This book dismantles some of the prejudices that surround both these subjects in a gentle and non-confrontational manner. Jane Ray’s monochrome illustrations complement the text in a pleasantly unobtrusive manner.