Between Us is my second novel and was published by Black Inc in February 2018. Here’s the blurb:
Is it possible for two very different teenagers to fall in love despite high barbed-wire fences and a political wilderness between them?
Anahita is passionate, curious and determined. She is also an Iranian asylum seeker who is only allowed out of detention to attend school. On weekdays, during school hours, she can be a ‘regular Australian girl’.
Jono needs the distraction of an infatuation. In the past year his mum has walked out, he’s been dumped and his sister has moved away. Lost and depressed, Jono feels as if he’s been left behind with his Vietnamese single father, Kenny.
Kenny is struggling to work out the rules in his new job; he recently started work as a guard at the Wickham Point Detention Centre. He tells Anahita to look out for Jono at school, but quickly comes to regret this, spiraling into suspicion and mistrust. Who is this girl, really? What is her story? Is she a genuine refugee or a queue jumper? As Jono and Anahita grow closer, Kenny starts snooping behind the scenes…
In writing this novel I worked with Shokufeh Kavani, a brilliant Iranian artist and writer, who was generous enough to share her knowledge and life experiences as a cultural consultant. Enormous thanks also go to Natasha Blucher, refugee advocate extraordinaire, who answered my endless questions tirelessly over three years. The research for Between Us was extensive, so I’ll leave the rest of the thankyous for the end of the book!
Praise for Between Us
‘I want everyone to read this book right now.’ —Fiona Wood
‘A beautiful, raw and timely book.’ —Melina Marchetta
‘An urgent, compelling and transcendent love story for our times.’ —Alice Pung
‘Atkins develops all these characters in nuanced ways, each one providing a facet to the complex, multi-generational stories of immigration and belonging in Australia. It is realistic and charming, tackling some big issues with compassion and insight.’ – Books + Publishing Magazine
‘Between Us is an extraordinary feat of storytelling, beautifully weaving together three narrative voices with precision and skill. Clare Atkins’ extensive research and understanding of the issues are apparent throughout, and her writing is exquisite. This is an important book that will resonate with all Australians.’ – Nina Kenwood, Chair of the Readings YA Book Prize judging panel
‘I’ve just finished Clare Atkin’s Between Us and I have no words. I could not have been prepared for the emotions it dragged me through – emotions so strong because they are rooted in issues that affect thousands of innocent people.’ —Kirrily Ireland, The Readings Teen Advisory Board
‘Between Us is an engaging and powerful book that delivers a heartfelt and emotionally captivating story. Its depiction of detention centre life serves as a wake-up call for an issue that will remain relevant for quite some time. — Joe Murray, The Readings Teen Advisory Board
‘Between Us is poetic. At times sweet, at times brutal, it has a power that crept up on me. Atkins’ prose style is fast-moving and succinct. Her characters are distinct…and the story genuinely moving.’ – Blurb Magazine
‘Between Us is a very raw and emotional read that made me cry more than once. The writing switches between prose and verse which gives it a lyrical quality that is truly beautiful to read. Full of complex and deftly drawn characters, it tells a moving story that will hit you hard and stay with you long after the book is over.’ – Sarah McDulling for Booktopia
Resources & Links
Teaching notes on Between Us are available to download from Black Inc.