Author: Amra Pajalic
Publisher: Grattan Press
Star Rating: 2.5/5
Date Read: May 5th, 2014
Read Count: 1
Thank you to Goodreads and the author Amra Pajalic for providing me with a copy of this book.
Amir: Friend On Loan tells the story of Amir and Dragan, best friends living in Australia but with different ethnic backgrounds. This has never been a problem for their friendship, until the ‘Serbs’ invade Bosnia. Dragan is from Serbia and Amir from Bosnia. This causes all kinds of problems with their families and friends, and the boys find themselves not allowed to be friends anymore.
I thought this book would go on to prove that ethnic backgrounds should not be any reason for kids not be friends, but instead got the opposite. Amir and Dragan try to be friends without their parents knowledge but the pressure is mounting from their schoolmates, who are divided. I know that this sort of thing happens, and I know that when you have family in a country being invaded it’s going to be hard for you. But why on earth take your anger out on people who no longer live in that country? Australia is a land of peace and prosperity and it’s doors are open. There is such a wide diversity of backgrounds and we should all be able to live peacefully here in a country where there is no war. I thought it interesting that Amir identified himself as Australian – and why shouldn’t he – but yet was dragged into a war he had no interest in by his parents and other parents in the community.
I was disappointed in the ending of this book. I felt the author could have done so much more with it, the fact that it is marketed to younger readers shouldn’t make it short, and expanded these issues far more than she did and leave the young readers with a positive impression of how to overcome differences in the community and an understanding that everyone is different, but here we are all Australian. Instead, it felt a bit like, bad luck, no hope for you. I know there are places where this happens, but why not use your book to help bridge a gap and show that we are all the same? In a week where we happen to be celebrating and calling out for diverse books and characters, it especially feels like the author dropped the ball on this one. So much potential to really write some lessons for children of all ages, races and religions to be able to learn from.