The Jungle by Pooja Puri
Published March 16th by Black and White Publishing
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Goodreads | Book Depository
There was a story Jahir used to tell me. About how the first humans were born with wings. Can you imagine what that would be like? To fly anywhere in the world without worrying about having the right papers?
Mico has left his family, his home, his future. Setting out in search of a better life, he instead finds himself navigating one of the world's most inhospitable environments the Jungle. For Mico, just one of many 'unaccompanied children', the Calais refugee camp has a wildness, a brutality all of its own.
A melting pot of characters, cultures, and stories, the Jungle often seems like its own strange world. But despite his ambitions to escape, Mico is unable to buy his way out from the 'Ghost Men' the dangerous men with magic who can cross borders unnoticed. Alone, desperate, and running out of options, the idea of jumping onto a speeding train to the UK begins to feel worryingly appealing.
But when Leila arrives at the camp one day, everything starts to change. Outspoken, gutsy, and fearless, she shows Mico that hope and friendship can grow in the most unusual places, and maybe, just maybe, they'll show you the way out as well.
Welcome to my stop on The Jungle blog tour! Can we take a moment to appreciate that gorgeous cover?! It's so beautiful.
The Jungle is the story of Mico, a young refugee who leaves his country and everything and everyone he knows, to try and find a better life. The title refers to the Calais refugee camp where Mico is now doing his best to survive and find a way out.
One of the things I liked most is the exploration of how someone’s actions and thoughts can drastically change over time. As the story develops, Mico becomes more and more desperate and this results in some surprising actions. Things that he (and you) didn't think he would be capable of. It was a good way of highlighting the psychological effects of being in such a place.
I liked Laila and the friendship between she and Mico. I feel like the story became a lot more engrossing when she came along and I was rooting for the both of them throughout. I would have liked more background information on both of them though. We know a little of where they come from but I think if we knew even more of their previous life then it would create more of an emotional connection to them both.
The story ends in quite a surprising place but on reflection I think this aids the idea that the life of a refugee in The Jungle is uncertain and doesn't necessarily have a clear end in sight.
This is a story that is highly relevant given recent political events such as Brexit and I think it's an important book to have in the YA market. I feel like it could be a great tool to generate discussion and awareness of the situation. An extremely well-written and thought-provoking story highlighting such an important theme.
Make sure you check out the other stops on the tour: