I seem to be on a bit of a winning streak when it comes to reviewing books. The last three have all been fantastic pieces of literature. This Is Where I Am is a stunning book. Definitely in my Top 10 of all time now. This story about a Somalian refugee and his daughter fleeing war and immigrating to Glasgow, and their mentor who helps them integrate into society is a book of life, reality, grief, death and hope. This makes it sound like a sad book, in many ways it is, but, like life itself, it is intertwined with happiness and the beauty of life itself, of human connection.
This book by Scottish writer Karen Campbell also made me rather homesick. Although I grew up in the Scottish Borders and have now lived in London for over seven years, it made me miss Glasgow as I lived there for a good few years. The book is also written partly in Glaswegian. You don’t have need a dictionary to read it and I quite like the poetry of it. It adds to the atmosphere of the book. Each Section is a different month and tourist place in Glasgow, with a little bit of historical facts at the beginning. To get you started on some Glaswegian here is a quick guide:
Heid – Head
Flair – Floor
Greet – Cry
Messages – Food shopping
Wee – Little
Juice – Cold drinks, not tea
Canny – can’t
Bahookie – Bottom
Tae – to
The brilliance of the book is that you see Glasgow fresh through the eyes of Abdi, the refugee, and Deborah, the Scottish woman mourning her dead husband who mentors Abdi.
The story is brilliant and the difference between white British Middle Class life and that of refugees in Somalia gives an accurate glimpse of the unfairness of life. How circumstance is all the difference between a good life and a terrible one. On the day I finished reading this book there were stories in the papers of displaced women in Somalia, proving that the travesties of war have long-term consequences.
This book is 467 pages long. It is so good I read it in a few days. This Is Where I Am can take its place as a great Scottish book, but also as a great story about human rights. A must read.