‘The Star Outside My Window’ – Onjali Q. Raúf

Aniyah and her brother, Noah, have gone to live with Mrs I and the children she fosters. We know very little about their circumstances but can glean something major has happened. Both are traumatised by their experiences and talk of their mum becoming a star hints at what might have happened.

As the story progresses we learn of the games they used to play with their mum that clearly indicate a life of abuse at the hands of their father. Their wariness and defence mechanisms are tough to read about as an adult.

Reading this as an adult was probably quite a different experience to that of the target audience. Much is hinted at and the details are sparse, but they offer enough to firmly place you on the side of these kids and others like them.

The main focus of the story is the madcap plan to get to the Royal Observatory in order to make sure that the newly discovered star is given their mother’s name. Ignoring plausibility this was the kind of madcap scheme that had you hoping they’d succeed. It was also a welcome relief to have the madcap dash – involving a brilliant moment with squirrels – to offset the high emotional impact of this story.

Though it was clear what had happened, the final stages of this where Aniyah has her moment of acceptance were hard. In spite of sitting on the bus reading I had tears rolling down my face and found myself needing a moment to digest what, for me, was a sensitively told story but what, for many, will be a grim reality.