Saying yes with an outreached hand: homelessness and hospitality in Canadian and Australian literature for young people
Between 2003 and 2008, more than fifteen books for children and young adults were published in Australia and at least thirteen in Canada that represent either literally or metaphorically the experiences of people whose family homes are no longer places of safety. In each of the texts analyzed in this essay-Shattered (2006) and Sketches (2007) by Eric Walters and The Island (2005) by John Heffiman-homelessness is represented not as the absence of a physical structure in which to live but as an absence of belonging, an absence of hospitality. As the characters travel through their pathways of homelessness, they develop interdependent relationships with people, creatures, and/or structures personified as an outreached hand, a symbol and act of hospitality. In each of these books, endings are uncertain in order to offer readers not a closed, stable future, but a version of belonging that includes multiple possibilities.