Where I Belong

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Overview

Master storyteller Gillian Cross's exciting new novel, set in London and Somalia, grapples with issues of identity, trust, and family. In the hot desert of Somalia, Mahmoud is kidnapped and held for a ten thousand-dollar ransom. His older sister, Khadija, is in London, thousands of miles away; and yet Mahmoud's life is in her hands. Someone has discovered her identity, that she is Qarsoon—the Hidden One—the face of famous fashion designer Sandy Dexter's newest collection. Who can Khadija trust to help her? She ...

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Overview

Master storyteller Gillian Cross's exciting new novel, set in London and Somalia, grapples with issues of identity, trust, and family. In the hot desert of Somalia, Mahmoud is kidnapped and held for a ten thousand-dollar ransom. His older sister, Khadija, is in London, thousands of miles away; and yet Mahmoud's life is in her hands. Someone has discovered her identity, that she is Qarsoon—the Hidden One—the face of famous fashion designer Sandy Dexter's newest collection. Who can Khadija trust to help her? She now must appear as planned on the Fashion Week runway. Only then can she possibly earn the money to save Mahmoud's life. Also involved is Abdi, a fourteen-year-old boy coming to terms with the mysterious disappearance of his father, and Freya, the totally unfashionable daughter of Sandy Dexter, trying to find her place in her mother's world of haute couture.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Cross (the Dark Ground trilogy) delivers a tightly crafted story about intersecting cultures and conflicted identities, told from three narrative perspectives. In London, down-to-earth Freya feels out of synch with her mother’s world of cutting-edge fashion design; on another side of the city, Abdi lives with his sisters and mother, who fled Somalia when she was pregnant with Abdi (their father has gone missing). After drought in Somalia sends 13-year-old Kadija to England to live as Abdi’s sister, she meets Freya and her mother, Sandy, in an Internet café, and Sandy offers Kadija a modeling job as the face of her new Somali-inspired collection. Kadija is conflicted, but when her brother is kidnapped from a refugee camp and his captors demand ransom money, she agrees to appear in Sandy’s runway show, which is to be staged in the very country where her brother’s life is being threatened. With a light touch, Cross lets readers formulate their own conclusions to hard-hitting questions about the fashion industry, global inequity, and the turmoil that can arise within cultural contact zones. Ages 12–up. (Apr.)
School Library Journal
Gr 6–10—When 13-year-old Khadija is sent from her home and family in Somalia to live with another family already settled in London, her life takes some surprising turns. While walking in her neighborhood, she is spotted by famous fashion designer Sandy Dexter and asked to be the "face" of her new line. Meanwhile, back in Somalia, her younger brother is kidnapped and held for $10,000 ransom. Khadija is uncertain what to do on both counts and turns first to her new "brother" Abdi for help. She also develops a friendship with Sandy's daughter, Freya. Set against the backdrop of London Fashion Week and Somalia itself, this fast-paced adventure is told in the alternating viewpoints of Khadija, Abdi, and Freya. The fashion element will engage readers who would otherwise not read this genre. The author does a good job of representing Somalia as a country in deep conflict, which is populated not only by warlords, but also by good people who love the land they grew up in. Unfortunately, the characters refer to their mothers as maamo, instead of hooyo, which is the correct Somali word for mother. Very few readers will actually notice this inconsistency, but it is jarring to those who know better. This broadly appealing title has an engaging cover and is a worthy addition to any collection.—Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH
Kirkus Reviews
A contemporary international thriller is woven together from alternating first-person perspectives. Freya, daughter of a British fashion designer who wants to create a line based on Somali beauty and exotic mystery, Khadija, a recent Somali teenage immigrant to London, and Abdi, of Somali heritage but born in the Netherlands and now living in England, share the story. The action moves from Somalia to the Muslim neighborhoods of London and then from English fashion studios and model agencies back to Somalia for an over-the-top fashion show. There, Khadija finds her younger brother, who is being held for ransom by people who have found out her secret: She just may become the next international supermodel. (Think Iman.) The betrayals that take place here seem to belong in another, more serious book. Here they are passed by too quickly. Although the device of the multiple narrators is largely successful, the third-person pieces about Mahmoud, the kidnapped boy, are printed in bold type in Freya's chapters and do not make structural sense. The plot is driven by e-mail messages and texts, and most of the characters are made of equally flimsy fabric. There is something appealing about the adolescent characters (most of the adults are creeps), but this mishmash of a plot may have little meaning for most readers, especially if their knowledge of Somalia is limited. (Thriller. 11-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823423323
  • Publisher: Holiday House, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/7/2011
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 947,880
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 650L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

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