Book review – On two feet and wings
Based on a true story
This book tells the fictionalised story of Abbas Kazerooni, a boy of nine, who leaves Iran to travel to England in the 1980s.
It is set during the time of the Iran/Iraq war and Abbas’ family, which has been allied with the Shah in the previous regime, is concerned that their son is going to be conscripted into the army. They sell nearly all their possessions to send Abbas and his mother to Istanbul, in Turkey. When they get to the airport they discover that Abbas’ mother is banned from leaving the country, so Abbas, aged nine, is left to travel to Istanbul on his own. The story follows his life in Istanbul, with its joys and dangers, and from one page to the next the reader is left wondering if Abbas will make it to the next day and one day to his cousin in England. It highlights the desperation that families have to see their loved ones reach a safer life, even if it involves a child travelling solo to countries where they don’t speak the language.
This story is aimed at a Young Adult audience (11+). Having said that, I really enjoyed reading it too. It has been very popular among our high school students. Abbas Kazerooni has more recently published a second book, The boy with two lives, which tracks his life in England.
Review by Katie Stanley, High School Teacher Librarian at The Friends’ School