Sima, a young refugee from Afghanistan, has been living in a detention centre in Australia, waiting to find out if she will be able to stay and start a new life or be sent back home to a place where she isn’t safe.
When a protester cuts the wire fence surrounding the centre, Sima, her family and 50 other detainees have an opportunity to escape. Despite being scared Sima must keep quiet, follow instructions and crawl along the ground to avoid alerting the security guards.
Despite her best efforts Sima lets out a sneeze and within seconds everyone is running. She doesn’t know where she is going and soon loses sight of her parents but she must keep going – what is the alternative?
Dan is a compassionate high school student who has been neglected by his parents. He attends a school where this isn’t so unusual, a place where many kids go to school without breakfast and exist on the fringes. Yet Dan has managed to still hold on to his belief in justice and that there is good to be found in the world.
When the school goes into lockdown and Dan finds Sima frightened and hiding in the school toilets, he’s not sure what to do. Should he report Sima and send her back to the detention centre or should he disregard what the Border Force officers with guns have told him to do and try to help her?
Set over a very short time period, and told from the perspective of both Sima and Dan, Detention gives 11 + readers a more personal and relatable face on the story of refugees and detention centres. It encourages them to question what they would do if this was their reality and explores themes around what is morally right, when it’s important to show courage, and standing up for what you believe in.
Australian author Tristan Bancks has created a fictional but thoroughly researched, fast paced, suspenseful and ultimately hopeful story. In the author’s notes he shares a timeline created for Sima and her family detailing their journey from Afghanistan that will help young readers understand what refugees go through in order to escape to safety.
With this powerful story, Bancks has definitely achieved his goal of telling a human story rather than a political one and we expect to see this book on school reading lists across the country.