Budi works in a footwear factory in Indonesia, making the football boots he longs to wear but is unlikely to ever afford. His ambition is to be a famous football player for a team like Real Madrid, but Budi’s reality is rather different. The conditions in the sweatshop are appalling, and instead of the luxurious life enjoyed by his idols, Budi has to go without food to manage on his tiny salary and live under constant threat of abuse and intimidation from the factory foreman. And when Budi attracts the notice of the dangerous Dragon, it seems less and less likely that he will ever achieve his dream.
The harsh divide between rich and poor is examined sensitively in this moving book about one child’s struggles that are, unfortunately, a fact of life for many. It’s also an intelligent look at the shadow side of capitalism that holds the role of professional footballer (with its accompanying wealth) up as an aspiration for children around the world, despite their circumstances. Budi may not ever achieve what so few manage, but is that the only dream available to him? Perfect reading for anyone that enjoyed The Bone Sparrow.
Winner of the 2018 Branford Boase Award.