Amnesty International UK (Ed), Here I Stand: stories that speak for freedom, Walker Books Australia, 1 July 2017, 320pp., $16.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9781406373646
This is a collection of short stories and poems edited and commissioned by Amnesty International UK. The authors are mostly British or living in the UK, though Australian author Tony Birch is featured. The stories are based around freedoms – their existence or loss – and human rights. The characters in the stories are often marginalised or bullied, are not members of the mainstream, and face challenges which are often invisible.
The stories and poems are all different but all very well written. Each will make the reader think, will raise their awareness, and hopefully convince them not to take their Western human rights for granted. This book would be better suited to dip in and out of, rather than to read all in one go, as many of the stories are harrowing and deal with difficult subject matter.
The only criticism I have is that Neil Gaiman is given top billing on the cover, and coupled with the fact that Chris Riddell did the cover art and chapter heading/title page typography, it creates the impression that they have contributed a significant portion of the book. In fact their contribution is a short poem by Gaiman and two illustrations by Riddell, so fans of the pair may be disappointed.
Stories from this collection could be a useful starting point for discussing human rights, freedoms, mental health, bullying, or marginalisation with teenagers. The book could also be used to broaden world views. Suitable for upper secondary and public libraries.
Reviewed by Rebecca Kemble