Two countries at war – Ethiopia and Eritrea. Alem’s father is Ethiopian and his mother is Eritrean. Caught in the middle, they are enemies of both sides. To celebrate Alem’s birthday his father takes him on holiday for a few days in London. He has never been out of Ethiopia before and is very excited. They have a great few days together until one morning when Alem wakes up in the Bed and Breakfast they are staying at to find the unthinkable. His father has left him.
It is only when the owner of the bed and breakfast hands him a letter that Alem is given an explanation. Alem’s father admits that because of the political problems in Ethiopia both he and Alem’s mother felt Alem would be safer in London – even though it is breaking their hearts to do this.
Alem is now on his own, in the hands of the social services and the Refugee Council. He lives from letter to letter, waiting to hear from his father, and in particular about his mother, who has now gone missing.