2nd March 1975
In Asmara, Eritrea, Yonas Kelati is born into a world of turmoil. At the same time, on the same day, Jude Munroe takes her first breath in London, England.
Thirty Years Later
Blacklisted in his war-ravaged country, Yonas has no option but to flee his home. After a terrible journey, he arrives on a bleak English coast.
By a twist of fate, Yonas’ asylum case lands on Jude’s desk. Opening the file, she finds a patchwork of witness statements from those who met Yonas along his journey: a lifetime the same length of hers, reduced to a few scraps of paper.
Soon, Jude will stand up in court and tell Yonas’ story. How she tells it will change his life forever.
The Invisible Crowd was a surprise arrival through my door, not in either of the genres I normally read it is one I probably wouldn’t have requested purely because my TBR pile is ridiculous but when I read the description and saw what the book was about I knew it was one that I had to read.
Jude and Yonas couldn’t be more different, one having grown up in England, in relative comfort, a barrister with a husband and child. The other having known nothing but war his entire life, torture, and death. Their only similarity is that they were born on the same day in the same year.
The two will be brought together when Yonas’ asylum case falls on Jude’s desk. As the book progresses we don’t just learn Yonas’ story from his point of view, we see what it is like for Jude, juggling life as a barrister, on a low wage, with a family vs her conscious for her client. We also meet all the people Yonas has come in contact with since reaching the country, no matter how briefly.
These chapters where we meet all the additional people were the most valuable to me, these were what made the novel, it showed just how many lives one person can touch, how special someone can be in the smallest ways. How different points of views can see the same thing differently. It helped us form a picture of the kind of man Yonas is, above and beyond the man we see from his own narration.
Now I will admit to having a strong opinion about the state of asylum in this country and some of what comes in this book sent me into long angry rants, because I know it’s true, I know it’s happening and it really angers me that we treat humans this way. Some of what happens in this book is appalling, it’s devastating and it broke my heart. But this is the reality of the world we live in and Ellen Wiles has seen it with her own eyes as a human rights barrister and translated it into what is one of the best novels I’ve read this year, and certainly on this subject.
The Invisible Crowd is compelling from the first page and will pull your heart kicking and screaming through the turmoil of finding a home, safety, and love.
Sending huge thanks to Ellen Wiles, Lucy Richardson and HQ for the ARC so that I could read and honestly review this novel.
Book & Buy Links
Title: The Invisible Crowd
Author: Ellen Wiles
Genre: Contemporary Fiction | Legal
Publication Date: 2 November 2017
Review Format: Hardcover
Other Formats: eBook | Audio | Paperback
Buy: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | SpeedyHen | Wordery