Themes: Refugee, Asylum Seeker, Escape, Nativity, Fear, Hope, Pilgrimage, Oppression, Journey, Despair, Prayer, Family, War, Violence, Vulnerable, Epiphany, Christmas, Persecution, Challenges
Tonight is the night.
The family has to flee.
They’ve been tipped off that the authorities are
after their blood.
This is a beautiful first-time collaboration between Nadia Wheatley (My Place, Luke’s Way of Looking) and Armin Greder (The Island, The City, The Great Bear).
The cover of the book portrays a familiar scene, a man, a woman, a donkey, but there’s a baby in the mother’s arms, this is not the Christmas story…
Flight that evokes the story of the “escape to Egypt” from the story of the Nativity and places it in a modern space, allowing the reader to imagine the story as if it were a refugee story from recent times.
The flight is a well used theme throughout the renaissance, and Armin uses his particular style to deepen the emotion and reality behind the story, inviting the reader to imagine the depth of the darkness and the heat of the sun, the song of the lullaby and the strength of the parent’s prayer.
The horizon never changes throughout the story, through day and night you get the sense that this will be a long and difficult journey, the vastness of this space is overpowering. You feel the loss of the donkey, hear the sound of the tanks as they thunder over the land, and experience the fear of the parents trying to find safety for their child, their family.
Armin has used very little colour in this story, you’re encouraged to enter the hopelessness of the journey, to feel the fear and to experience a deep unease and sadness at the lack of resolution as the story ends.
For, as the story ends and the fourth wall is broken it is the reader who is invited to hear their cry for help, and with it the cry of many others like them.
As they wait for someone, anyone to do something, to hear their story we are left with the invitation to re-tell the story and to become a part of it.
Beautiful and haunting this story left me speechless.