This week I’m reading: Windrush Child by Benjamin Zephaniah

Endorsed by Amnesty International, Windrush Child by Benjamin Zephaniah is part of the Voices series, which aims to provide “gripping adventures that reflect the authentic, unsung stories of our past”.

Blurb on the back:

Leonard is shocked when he arrives with his mother in the port of Southampton. His father is a stranger to him, it’s cold and even the Jamaican food doesn’t taste the same as it did back home in Maroon Town. But his parents have brought him here to try to make a better life, so Leonard does his best not to complain, to make new friends, to do well at school – even when people hurt him with their words and their fists. How can a boy so far from home learn to enjoy his new life when so many things count against him?

Although this is aimed at a young audience, Zephaniah does not shy away at using authentic, racist language in Windrush Child, to portray what it was really like for black families to move to Britain in the 1950s. Told from Leonard’s perspective, we witness his life experiences: leaving Jamaica and arriving in Britain in 1958; attending British schools; becoming an adult; falling in love; becoming a parent; and, eventually, becoming a victim of the Windrush scandal in 2018.

This is a powerful, heartfelt story with a strong message. Like the fictional Leonard, Zephaniah is also a Windrush child, which adds weight to an already emotional and politically-charged story.

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