‘I will call you Hurriyah,’ I say softly to the fox in Arabic, and then in halting English I add, ‘I will … call you … Freedom.‘
I do not know why I have chosen that word out of all the many more suitable ones I could have picked. I only know that it is her name. And it is also a wish for her future.
(The Fox Girl And The White Gazelle by Victoria Williamson. P56.)Synopsis:
Caylin feels completely alone. She steals food and money from other children and hasn’t been able to wash her clothes for weeks. She can’t tell anyone in case they separate her and Mum.
Reema feels lost in a new country. Her home in Syria is miles away, and Scotland will never feel like home. There is a new language to learn, a little sister to protect, and a brother who has been missing since the family was forced to leave him behind.
Caylin and Reema are not obvious friends, but when a wounded fox appears with her cubs, the girls come together to protect her and find they have more in common than they thought.
A beautiful story of friendship and hope.
The Fox Girl And The White Gazelle is a beautiful story about people coming together and discovering they have more in common than they realise. They support each other, and together they are capable of more than they are alone.
Caylin feels a conflict between being liked and taking money to do the shopping. She puts on a tough-girl act but is embarrassed by her lisp. Reema wants her little sister to share her memories of pre-war Syria and is fed-up of people making assumptions about her culture. Both Reema and Caylin felt like real people. It didn’t surprise me to learn that Victoria Williamson has taught children from similar backgrounds, or that she researched her characters’ backgrounds.
The narrative is shared between Reema and Caylin. I was pleased they both got a voice. We see their initial suspicions of each other and
I love how nature brings the children together. The fox, like the children, has struggled at times to survive. She is misunderstood – an animal in a city where nature is often unwelcome. Her story is told through a series of poems, which also reflect the girls’ experiences.
While the story of the fox is simple, it is used to explore some complex emotions and experiences, and the result is beautiful. It is a story of friendship and tolerance and would be a lovely book for promoting empathy.
Thanks to Kelpies and Victoria Williamson for my review copy. Opinions my own.