It’s no great secret that I hold Elizabeth Laird’s books in very high esteem.  She’s a talented writer, a superb storyteller and also a humanitarian.  In an environment where fantasy and dystopia vie for shelf space, Macmillan should also be congratulated for continuing to publish her books which are not easy reads although they are hugely rewarding.

In Welcome to Nowhere  Elizabeth tells Omar’s story.  Omar is a twelve-year-old from a fairly average Syrian family who hates school and has great dreams for the future.  As the novel unfolds so does the civil war and slowly, gradually life as Omar knows it begins to unravel. Elizabeth is unsurpassed in her ability to personalise stories of global catastrophe, causing her readers to empathise with, and therefore, understand the situations to a greater degree. Without ever going to extremes, she is both truthful and hopeful in her account of the struggles of Omar and his family.  Based on her own experiences working in Syrian refugee camps her novel is powerful, heart-breaking and compelling.  This is a book not to be missed.  And surely the Carnegie judges will finally award Liz the Medal she so richly deserves.


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