Twig sneaks out one night to follow his father to the Black Market despite being forbidden to ever do so. There Twig is attacked and the two are separated.
Unable to locate his Da, Twig finds himself alone on the streets, fighting to stay alive. He meets the homeless Flea with whom a friendship is quickly built. He learns how to survive amongst the countless homeless children that are ignored, pursued and swept aside.
Then Twig wakes up in the Afterlife. His memory has been wiped clean except for a few foggy remembrances.
He has with him a key, a raven named Krruk, who is a guardian, and an atlas to find his way home. He also has riddles and rhymes to solve if he is to pass through the Crossings.
These serve to soften the tragic parts by adding an ordinary, childish and playful aspect to the story.
Zana Fraillon uses an extraordinary adventure through fantastic scenes and terrains, to magnify issues that she loves to write about. Here it is the daily struggle of homeless children and youth to survive, while providing for the little ones that depend on them for sustenance. With her expertise in drawing attention to the weaker strata of society, Fraillon cleverly exposes flawed systems that refuse to take responsibility for their shortcomings and the cracks in their social structures.
The strength and resilience the children gather to overcome difficult circumstances is poignantly displayed. They toughen and harden, in order to withstand life’s continuous blows. They become wary; untrusting, for they have learned that any kindness offered, is an investment attached to a lifetime repayment.
It is also a stunning and powerful novel full of hope by the author of Wisp, The Ones That Disappeared and the award-winning bestseller, The Bone Sparrow, amongst others.
Title: The Lost Soul Atlas
Publisher: Hachette, $19.99
Publication Date: 14 July 2020
For ages: 12+