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Book Review: Hearts and Minds by Amanda Craig

Hearts and Minds by Amanda Craig

What an extraordinary novel! Hearts and Minds tells the story of five people whose lives intersect in modern day London. Job is from Zimbabwe, an illegal mini-cab driver, trying to eek out an existence of sorts. He hopes that one day his wife will join him – even though she no longer answers his letters and he doesn’t know what has become of her. Fifteen-year-old Anna is from the Ukraine and travelled to London believing she was going to work as a hotel chambermaid, but instead she endures the horror of being trafficked into sexual slavery. Katie is from New York after being jilted by her fiancée and is miserable working as dogsbody at a political magazine, her life seemingly stuck in an endless bleak rut. Meanwhile Ian is an idealistic school teacher exiled from South Africa yearning for the chance to make a difference with his students. The fifth character, Polly Noble, is not an immigrant – but as a human rights lawyer she knows better than most how easy it is for people to fall between the cracks of regular life in London. And when her au pair, Iryna, disappears, Polly’s life is suddenly linked with the immigrant underbelly of London life in a much more personal way. Following the discovery of a girl’s corpse in Hampstead Ponds, all the characters are dragged into a world of danger.

This is very much a book about the problems of immigration in modern day Britain. Hearts and Minds is utterly riveting – thought-provoking and moving, entertaining and engaging. I couldn’t put it down. It is a wonderful piece of writing that also shows how all of us are interconnected, especially in a city such as London, and it raises serious questions about how we live.

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