When their father fails to come home one day, Lola and Amit face a terrifying new reality. With no money and no idea how to look after themselves, they are made homeless and face life on the streets. Set in an unnamed Indian city, this is a powerful and timely story of two siblings trying to survive; heart-wrenching at times, but ultimately hopeful. Fountain made her debut with the widely acclaimed Boy 87, which was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize.
Her second, Lost (Pushkin), follows cosseted brother and sister Lola and Amit as they gradually slide into penury when their father fails to return home from a work trip. Isolated from friends and family, they join the ranks of street children living off their wits in the city’s railway station.
I’m presuming the author herself has never lived on the street, but Fountain writes about this fictitious situation with verisimilitude and verve. Novels are works of imagination, and this book’s compassion overrides any questions about the “right to write”.
Softened by alluding only to the worst dangers faced by young “street rats”, by glimmers of kindness and an ending that comes as a relief, this book will arouse compassion for society’s lost, reminding readers how small the difference may be between them and us.