This Is Where I Am by Karen Campbell was this month’s book club read and one with mixed reviews. Most of us were drawn into the concept and characters. Deborah Maxwell was a strong woman who didn’t dwell on the fact that she was a widow and wanted to make a difference.
Abdi had an imperfect journey to Scotland and its culture, being immediately ripped off in the newsagents and thinking all the food was just one colour! His breakdown and behaviour was entirely plausible and we did speculate whether his reasons for keeping his daughter at home was entirely honourable – did he just believe that she didn’t warrant an education?
The treatment of the refugees was something that we discussed at length. Glasgow has the largest amount of refugees and asylum seekers in Scotland and the cuts in monies for asylum seekers as featured in the novel was something we found entirely realistic. The author’s husband had begun volunteering for the Scottish Refuge Council and train as a refugee mentor, which is the inspiration behind the novel.
The difficulty we had with the novel was the credibility in Deborah finding Abdi’s wife. Certainly searching for her, would be a plausible sub plot, but to actually find her so easily was something that we thought spoilt the flow of the novel.
We also had a problem with the text and a few members cited that for the reason they didn’t finish it.
However, this is one that created a good discussion and for some of our members, an enjoyable read!