Hayling Island sits off the coast or Portsmouth on the south coast of England. Fourteen year old Alix is walking her dog along the beach one cold spring morning when she witnesses a man being thrown out of a boat. With her at the time is Samir who is a loner at school, constantly bullied for being an immigrant. Together they pull the man out the freezing water and hide him in an abandoned hut on the beach. Alix knows little about asylum seekers but Samir is determined to prevent the stranger from being deported.
It’s the first book I’ve read in a long time where the voice of a teenage narrator actually sounds like the average teenager. She’s a normal kid that does an amazing thing but she also has all the insecurities going round in her head. I loved the part where she became convinced that everyone around her might be racist just because they never speak about their opinions and that she’ll have to hide away from people for the rest of her life. At the start of the book, she does think some racist thoughts, but not out of malice, partly out of fear and partly out of only hearing about stereotypes.
Hidden highlights how so often prejudices are born out of ignorance. Alix has made assumptions about practically everyone in her life but she soon learns to judge people based on fact and experience. It’s a true coming of age story, going from worrying about getting a date to standing up for basic human rights.
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