New Book: Teenage faith and refugees

Refugees continue to feature in our news. Having escaped for all sorts of reasons, many have experienced trauma. But are we able to empathise? Can we put ourselves in someone else’s shoes? How does it feel to not fit in in a new country, a new school, a totally new situation? And what about those who are illegal yet needy? How ought we to respond?

This gripping story for young teens shines a light on the problems that come with uprooting and leaving what we know and embarking on life in a new country. Main character, twelve-year-old Ruth, has never thought very much about refugees and their troubles until she now has troubles of her own. She has to leave her home, school and best friend in Egypt, and move with her mum to Edinburgh. Fitting in to a huge new school is not easy, but things get worse when she discovers her mum is hiding an injured illegal refugee called Yusef and swears her to secrecy. But how can she keep a secret without telling lies?

Ruth makes friends with Chris but they get singled out by a local gang of bullies. And it seems that secrets are not confined to Ruth’s family – Chris’ little sister is hiding something, and it’s not a happy secret.

Ruth is a normal pre-teen: she gets angry, scared, embarrassed and confused, but she wants to live out her faith. Hide and Secret addresses the difficulties teens face when trying to live for Jesus at school. For Ruth, the challenge is even harder, because she has yet to make friends.

Chris has never thought about faith or heaven, but he keeps an open mind when Ruth tries to explain what she believes. He won’t let Ruth down, but life is not easy for him, either. What does the Somerfield gang have against him, and why is his sister so unhappy? As Yusef gets stronger, keeping his situation secret becomes more complicated, until finally, real danger threatens everyone.

Weaving three interlinked plots, author Helen Parker brings them all together in a final dramatic climax!

Helen says,

‘The reason I wrote this book is because there seems to be a dearth of books for young teens who want to live out their faith. There are some brilliant fantasy books – from Narnia onwards – but what about real life in the twenty-first century? I also hope the book helps young readers to understand the plight of refugees.’

About the author: Helen Parker began her teaching career in Coventry, and then taught in Edinburgh, Cyprus and Egypt, where her husband was the minister at All Saints Cathedral. They now live in Edinburgh, but their little grandchildren, alas, are in London and the Hebrides!

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