Fifteen-year-old Doria isn’t in a good place. Or to be precise: she’s in the sadly misnamed Paradise Estate on the outskirts of Paris. Her father has gone off back Morocco to find a wife who can give him a boy, and her illiterate, non French-speaking mother is having to fend for herself with a cleaning job in a grim motel. What’s more, her favourite soap star has turned out to be gay and it looks like the only school that is going to accept Doria is the one for future hairdressers. Still, it could be worse: Doria could be like Samra, the girl in the flat above, whose father doesn’t let her out, or Youssef who has been banged up for a year for dealing in drugs and stolen cars. At least Hamoudi – twenty-eight and the coolest guy on the estate – is her friend. And at least she gets a free weekly session with psychologist Mrs Burland, who is about the only person who listens, even if she doesn’t quite understand…
In this fabulous first novel, Faiza Guene has created an unforgettable voice. Doria is both clued up and innocent, acutely aware of what’s in store for her and powerless to change it. She is funny, clever and tragically trapped. But in the end, her dogged determination not to be down-trodden and humiliated wins through and it looks like things can only get better.
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Pop Up Festival 2021 Programme