Selda is 12 when she leaves her rural Turkish village with her mother and sisters to join her father and brother in Switzerland. None of them speak German and Selda finds herself in a strange country with no way of making friends of her own age.
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Selda, a young Turkish immigrant in Switzerland, was a star pupil in her small hometown of Izmir. She was outspoken and friendly. Now she feels like a non-person, or a deaf-mute: When people speak to her she does not understand and cannot respond. Although she is much smarter than her older sisters Fatma and Pembe, they seem to have no trouble in school, while Selda struggles with her studies. She also must suffer the occasional cruelty of other students and of her Swiss neighbors, who have no tolerance for her foreignness. Selda is ambitious, but to succeed in Switzerland requires surmounting the obstacles of her father's reactionary attitude, the school board's paternalism, and her neighbors' prejudice - obstacles that 12-year-old Selda understandably finds daunting. Luckily she has inherited the strength of her grandmother in Izmir, an illiterate old woman who began taking classes so that she could read Selda's letters to her. Selda passes her class (her sisters are left back), gains the respect of her classmates, and stands up to her father. Selda also befriends a young illegal alien and a rich Swiss girl and sees that her own troubles are small compared to those of others. An uplifting story and a poignant look at the plight of immigrant children in Europe from the author of Against the Storm (1992). Superb. (Kirkus Reviews)