A Pocketful of Stars by Aisha Bushby
This book is an unusual mix of fantasy intertwined with real life family drama. Safiya who loves playing video games, finds herself transported in and out of one when her mother becomes seriously ill.
Mixed race Safiya, has a strained relationship with her Kuwaiti mother and decides to live with her father when her parents separate. She feels herself different from her mother and rarely sees eye to eye with her. When her mother becomes seriously ill, Safiya’s life turns on its head. In her trauma, Safiya finds herself transported back to her mother’s childhood in Kuwait. The rich description paints a mysterious and attractive image of Kuwait. Safiya decides that this is a magical game and that working through it will help her save her mother’s life.
Shy Safiya is also dealing with adolescent angst of changing friendships; while Safiya is still enjoying the fun of being a child, her best friend Elle has discovered boys and a rift develops between them as they outgrow each other.
We see in Safiya a strong girl who learns how to be resilient and realises the value of learning about the person her mother is and where she came from. She realises she has a lot more in common with her mother than she first thought. This story subtly deals with the pressures of divorce, illness and growing up with the most unusual backdrop of a fantasy world of a magic game. It is essentially a coming of age story.