Between Us by Clare Atkins

Between Us by Clare Atkins (Black Inc) is an Australian YA novel published in 2018. It continues to generate interest around the world. Winning the IBBY (Australia) Honour award for writing in 2019 has undoubtedly contributed to this recognition.

IBBY (the International Board on Books for Young People) is an international network committed to bringing books and children together. It administers the prestigious biennial Hans Christian Andersen Award.

IBBY (Australia) is a dynamic organisation that promotes Australian literature for young people within Australia and to the world, particularly through its biennial candidates for the Hans Christian Andersen Award as well as its winners of the IBBY (Australia) Honour award for writing and illustration. These books are showcased at IBBY international conferences and the authors and illustrators often also attend these significant events.

IBBY Australia’s recent Honour prize for illustration was awarded to Lisa Kennedy for Wilam (written by Aunty Joy Murphy and Andrew Kelly, Walker Books Australia). It is currently shortlisted for the 2020 CBCA awards.

The writing prize was awarded to Clare Atkins for Between Us, a novel that I have spoken about in Australia as well as at international conferences, including a recent IBBY conference in Athens.

Presenters IBBY Athens 2018

Between Us by Clare Atkins

Some of our best new and recent Australian writing for young people reflects genuine concern and empathy for the plight of refugees and those who are displaced.

Set between a notorious detention centre in Australia’s north and a local secondary school, Between Us explores “in between”, liminal spaces and relationships. Each of the three protagonists, fifteen-year-old Iranian asylum seeker, Anahita; sixteen-year-old Vietnamese-Australian, Jono; and his former “boat person” and now prison officer father Kenny are confronted by the terrible reality of Ana’s life as a detainee and its effect on their lives.

Their voices move between lyricism, playfulness, anger and repression to reveal their pain, fear, frustration and love.

This powerful, confronting novel will leave an indelible reminder of the damage caused by life behind barbed wire. It will also provoke awareness of the potential for hurt or healing when people’s lives intersect.

Clare Atkins (photo from her website)

I have written further about Between Us elsewhere on the Paperbark Words blog.

Clare Atkins is a thoughtful and highly skilled writer. We look forward to reading her future work.

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