Eleven-year-old Linus makes an unusual discovery in the changing rooms at school: his classmate Merjem is hiding on top of a wardrobe. Merjem’s family have been deported to Albania, but she has managed to run away and now the police are looking for her. Merjem feels at home in Germany and wants to stay there. Linus and his friend Dana are determined to help her by bringing food and clothes, eager to find a solution so that Merjem can stay. But the school’s caretaker, Herr Karle, makes life difficult for them and seems to have something to hide himself. In the end, Merjem is allowed to remain with Linus and Dana’s families, and there is hope that her parents might return to Germany.
Merjem has all the ingredients of a classic children’s novel – friendship, adventure and, most importantly, solving a problem without the help or knowledge of adults. But it is also about a very current topic that children will be familiar with from their own classrooms. Schmidt’s style is direct and funny, and her protagonists are authentic and easy to relate to. This is a novel that both children and adults will enjoy.