The History of a Word 02/07/20
The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle
Reema and her family have fled Syria and come to live in Glasgow. Reema’s father is suffering from ill health and the family have lost touch with Reema’s older brother Jamal, who Reema adores.
In another nearby flat, Caylin lives with her mum, who is finding it hard to cope. Without any money coming in, Caylin struggles to feed and clothe herself, wearing smelly clothes to school and threatening other kids for their lunch money so she can buy food.
Told in dual narrative, the story follows Reema and Caylin as they negotiate a shaky friendship. Both characters are suffering in different ways, but Williamson focuses on the ways that they help each other: Caylin protects Reema from the school bullies she herself is also victim too, and Reema builds Caylin’s confidence. Finding things in common – running, and the care of a stray fox and its cubs – gives the friends a sense of purpose and a way to bond that sets an example for their families.
This is a truly excellent book that is entirely appropriate for both primary and secondary readers. Williamson has created fantastic characters and a human, nuanced and ultimately uplifting story with plenty of heart.