Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Mountain Wolf


Mountain Wolf Mountain Wolf by Rosanne Hawke (HarperCollins)
PB RRP $16.99
ISBN 9780732293871
Reviewed by Sharon McGuinness

Rosanne Hawke uses her experience and knowledge as a former aid worker in Pakistan to write novels which include themes about  refugees, multicultural issues and now the slave trade. Her writing lends an authenticity, even though she may be an Anglo-Australian.

It tells the story of Razaq who lives in the tribal area of Kala Dhaka, also known as Black Mountain, in Pakistan. The area is ravaged by an earthquake and Razaq’s family is lost. Told by his dying father to flee to his Uncle Javaid in Rawalpindi, Razaq is sold into slavery before he can even attempt the journey. He is kept a virtual prisoner washing dishes in a teashop, yet we are subtly aware there is another more sinister reason for his slavery and the reader is then on guard, expecting that prostitution and possibly rape will threaten  Razaq. This fear is made  real as we are aware that Hawke’s novel deals with facts, therefore thousands of children like Razaq in Pakistan are facing daily threats and conditions such as these.

Escaping to the streets where he meets other children like himself, his search for his uncle is again thwarted as he is betrayed and returned to the teashop. Razaq’s exotic looks, in particular his green eyes, catch the attention of a customer and he is again sold. Tahira, a girl he befriends is sold to a wealthy man and Razaq vows to free her.

Razaq and Tahira meet again and work in the same brothel and, with thoughts of finding his uncle fading, they eventually find a way out via an aid worker called Majeed.

Complementary to Razaq’s story is one told by his uncle Javaid, who becomes aware of the tragedy which has taken the lives of his brother’s family, yet spared his nephew. The interwoven story of Javaid’s desperate and frustrating search for his nephew mirrors the search by Razaq and heightens the suspense of the novel.

Will Razaq and Tahira be freed from their slavery and able to live safely – a fundamental right?
Rosanne Hawke delivers a confronting novel which simultaneously deals with the issues of child slavery and prostitution sensitively. Her novel explores the themes of social justice for those without power and is essential reading.

This reviewer found the novel compelling reading and yet was shocked by the fact that child slavery exists on such a scale in Pakistan. Rosanne Hawke has again provided us with characters able to overcome harrowing circumstances, via a narrative which is both authentically written and thought provoking.

Mountain Wolf is confronting and  not suitable for primary school libraries nor the children’s sections of public libraries due to some of its content.

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