Zaher is Afghani, but everyone knows he hates the Taliban. Fellow student Martin reports Zaher’s rough start in Paradise and his gradual acceptance by his new classmates. A drug bust at school throws the students’ flexibility into contrast with the prejudice of several members of the local police force. Zaher is falsely charged with drug dealing and his family is deported to the country from which they have sought asylum. Martin, whose marijuana is used to frame Zaher, describes an investigation marked by mistreatment and blackmail. When he is released, too late to help Zaher, Martin returns to school convinced that he is responsible and determined to find some way of fighting injustice as a means of making up for what he has done.
Descent into Paradise focuses on a teen distrustful of authority figures and casual about breaking rules that he believes are unnecessary. His experiences demonstrate that his actions have consequences, though readers will likely find the events described too extreme to be really believable. However, the story also suggests that there are valid places for Martin to direct his rebellious attitude, and that it is possible to distinguish between trustworthy and untrustworthy authority figures. The novella is one half of one of Annick Press’s Single Voice books. Each book contains two brief stories which address complex, timely issues in simple language and large type. Clearly intended for reluctant readers, the Single Voice publications offer considerable substance for thought and even discussion while keeping the presentation easily manageable.
Annick recruited bloggers to review the Single Voice novellas. Descent into Paradise was reviewed by theGreen Bean Teen Queen.
You can watch a promotional video for the Single Voice project here