No Place to Call Home by JJ Bola
Jean starts at a new school and struggles to fit in. He develops an unlikely friendship with rowdy classmate James, who gets him into a string of sticky situations; fights, theft, and more.
At home, his parents, Mami and Papa, who fled political violence in Congo under the dictatorial regime of Le Marechal, to seek asylum as refugees – which Jean and his star-student little sister, Marie, have no knowledge of – pressure him to focus on school and sort his act out. Jean is then suspended, and Marie, who usually gets on his nerves, helps him keep his secret, which draws them closer together.
As the family attempts to integrate and navigate modern British society, as well as hold on to their roots and culture, the reality of their situation unravels a threat to their future, whilst the fear of uncertainty remains. With colourful characters and luminous prose, No Place To Call Home is a tale of belonging, identity and immigration, of hope and hopelessness, of loss – not by death, but by distance – and, by no means the least, of love.