Pooja Puri - The Jungle - Book Review by Kimberley Jackson

“It was as if, in that moment, they had all become bound by the same thread. Later, he would remember that feeling. The realisation that nothing joined humans so much as pain.”Pooja Puri, The Jungle

How come that nowadays the most striking, most moving, most thoughtful books are published in the genre Young Adult? Tackling current political and societal issues with a depth hardly found in mainstream literature, The Jungle is certainly a novel that people of all ages should read.

Quick Facts

Title: The Jungle
Author: Pooja Puri
Genre: Young Adult
Date: March 15, 2017
Publisher: Ink Road (Black & White Publishing Ltd.)
Price: US$6.73

About Pooja Puri

Pooja Puri is a U.K. based author with a degree in English Language and Literature. She graduated from King’s College London and is currently working in the education sector while she prepares to star her MA in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University. The Jungle is her debut novel, and according to her, the inspiration for the story came to her after seeing a report on television about the Calais Jungle refugee camp. She says she was struck by how many young people lived under such terrible conditions.

About The Jungle

The Jungle is the story of Leila, Mico, Hassan, and Sy, who all live as refugees in the Calais Jungle, a refugee camp near calais, which was famously considered an entry point to the U.K. They all left behind their countries, their homes, their families, and their lives, each one of them battling with their own demons and handling the situation in a different way. Hassan, an aspiring actor, is calm, composed, optimistic, always trying to make life at camp better and seeing the best in everyone. Sy is determined to earn enough money to pay so-called ghost men for a seat in a truck, so he can escape the camp and cross over to England. Leila is feisty, mischievous, reckless and a talented artist. She dreams of one day selling her art to galleries. And 15-year-old Mico struggles with the loss of his sister in a fire, and wants to become an engineer.

They all try to get by, but the miserable life in the refugee camp changes them while they see their dreams of a better life shattered over and over again and have to face the scorn of the outside world simply for existing.

Review

Every year I stumble across one book that leaves a deep impression, that moves me, and that stays with me for days, weeks, and sometimes even months. I already know that The Jungle¬†will be that book for me in 2017. The Calais Jungle refugee camp, in which this story is set, was an actually existing camp that remained open until fall 2016. That fact adds a sense of realism to the story that might be responsible for the effect on the reader. This isn’t just a made-up camp, a possibility. No, this book is representative of an experience millions of people have to go through at the moment.

To me, this book was perfect in every way. A compelling plot, lovable and relatable characters, and great pacing. Whenever I picked this book up, I couldn’t put it down again until I really, REALLY had to. And that’s amazing.

The author writes a stellar Deep POV that drew me in from the very first sentence. She has a beautiful, clean style but doesn’t sacrifice prose whenever appropriate. I will most definitely keep an eye out for more of her books in the future, because if The Jungle is any indicator, her upcoming stories will be worth reading.

I’m a fan of stories that move me. But I’m also a fan of stories that feature characters who cannot be classified as either good or bad. And this novel offers just that. The story takes the reader on a journey they would not otherwise be able to take. It makes the reader question their own views and moral standards and leaves us with a striking question: how would having to flee war change us? What would we be willing to do to secure a future for us and our families? Can we imagine a world without borders?

Legal notice: I was given an ARC (advance review copy) of this book by the publisher. Nonetheless, this review represents my own opinion and wasn’t influenced by the author or the publisher in any way. No monetary compensation was paid in exchange for this review.