Sunday 23 June 2019


Detention by Tristan Bancks (Puffin) PB RRP $16.99 ISBN 9780143791799

Reviewed by Kathleen Condon

This middle-grade novel by Australian author Bancks uses simple language but the story is fast paced as it grapples with concepts of right and wrong. Would you shelter someone who had escaped from custody? What if that someone was a young teenage girl escaping with her family and a group of other refugees from a detention camp?

Bancks says he was inspired to write Detention as a result of being in a school lockdown where the whole student and staff body were evacuated. This is what happens in his book when Dan, a boy who has learning difficulties, comes across Sima on the run. She has lost her parents and is now in a strange place needing shelter and other help.

The story, told in alternate chapters from the girl escapee, Sima, and from Dan’s viewpoints, explores themes of empathy and compassion, belonging and resistance. In writing the book Bancks consulted with refugee advocacy groups such as STARTTS (NSW Service for the Treatment and rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors). If nothing else, the point should provide a springboard for young adult readers and their teachers.

Bancks, who has published a number of YA novels, is currently working with producers to develop several of them for the screen.

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