‘Only Ten’ perfectly displays the hard life of a 10 year-old boy who struggles to leave his past behind. It hooks the reader from the very first paragraph when the boys and girls at school call him ‘The Shah’. As the readers can already tell after reading the short story, the author has thought about the setting carefully as it relates closely to what really happens in our world today.
The author is vague in the way he gives out hints and leaks bits of Hussein’s past out for the reader to put the pieces together by the end of the short story. The Shah finds it hard to tell anyone about his past and the author does this by using short sentences to build suspense and create foreshadowing throughout the story. ‘Only Ten’ shows us how difficult it is to start off in a new country and outlines the struggles that a refugee faces to feel like they belong. Using the protagonist as the author’s tool to show this, the message that the author gives is that it is a common feeling that many refugees and migrants go through every day when they are forced to move to another country due to many reasons. The writer uses many similes such as “Bruce leapt at the Shah… swinging the ruler above his head as if it was a sword” displaying violence which relates to Hussein’s past life. The author also uses metaphors such as when the Shah is was playing football and he suddenly curled up into a ball as if he was thinking of something else.
What he probably thought about was a bomb. The writer also picks up on a very interesting point which is how intrigued The Shah was when he saw the a living thing growing. It shows the readers that Hussein was overjoyed and surprised at the fact that something is actually growing around him which may have not been something he was used to considering the environment he previously lived in. The title is creative as it refers and gives us the first hint into the protagonists’ life.
Overall, the author writes in a way that some readers may relate to and gives other readers an insight into the life and everyday torments of a refugee. Not only this, it is written in a powerful way that gives a satisfying read at the end when all information is given and every reader has put together Hussein’s life.