Red Leaves by Sita Brahmachari

Aisha is a refugee who has finally found a home with her foster mother. When she discovers she has the chance of being adopted, she feels betrayed and her safe world is shaken to its core. Determined to avoid the adoption and to make her foster mother understand just how much she loves her, Aisha runs away into the local woods. There she meets Zak, running away from his parents’ divorce and the news that his mother is missing in Syria. They are soon joined by Iona, an angry Sottish teenager who ran away from home and lives on the streets. The woods is also the home to Elder, an old homeless lady who is wise beyond her years and yet also out of her mind. As Aisha, Zak and Iona face up to their decisions, their fears and their pasts, they learn to trust Elder and to understand how to move their lives forward.

A thoughtful story which considers the effects of loneliness and abandonment, as well as the need to let go and move on. All three teenagers in the book have suffered from broken homes of one sort or another and they have a lot to learn from each other and the reader has a lot to learn from them. Elder is an unusual character, at times frightening and at times loving. The author does not gloss over Elder’s behaviour or oddness but her depiction helps the reader to consider the plight of the homeless in a more understanding manner. A straightforward read that gives the reader much to think about.

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