Macmillan, 2008, 284p
I wish I could start this blog with celebration and praise, but I have mixed feelings about the ending of this book. Let me explain...
Lost Riders is the story of an eight-year-old boy from Pakistan, who gets sold into a strange sort of slavery in Dubai. Rashid becomes a camel jockey - he is fed poorly to keep light weight, he is woken in the early hours of the morning to exercise the camels, and every time he races, he risks losing his life.
Laird prefaces the book with a short account of the reality of life for camel jockeys. In her travels around Pakistan, she met parents who had had their children taken from them, and she talked to people who were working hard to bring families back together. With that short extract of her own experience, I was hooked. I love a book grounded in reality.
The book was well written, and easy to read. It has a sense of danger and excitement, but the reader also comes to understand how scared and confused Rashid is. This book came as part of the BookBuzz scheme, and I have no qualms about recommending it to students.
However, like I said, the ending got to me. It continues to play on my mind. I won't spoil it, don't worry. But I will say that I felt that Laird attempted to simultaneously provide a happy ending alongside one of doubt about the future of these children. I feel she should have chosen one or the other.
But I still would like to read other Elizabeth Laird fiction. So it's not all bad!