Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, and I hope you enjoy what is to follow and this new little journey into the world of books!
Reading should be joyful, exciting, informative and a way to live a thousand lives without even having to leave the comfort of your own home.
I stumbled across this book, as we are going to be teaching it next year as a new unit for the Year 7 pupils. As a department we are incredibly conscious of the curriculum we teach in every year, and during a meeting, one of the biggest things we wanted to include was a sense of the 'wider' world, especially for the younger lads in the school,
(I think I mentioned it on my first ever blog post, but I teach in an all boys high school).
I think it is so incredibly important to push the boundaries of your own imagination. Leave your comfort zone, and experience something new; something different; something you most probably won't ever experience first hand in your own life. Books are a portal to other worlds, and we need to utilise this within the classroom.
So! Without further ado, the first book that I'm going to share with you is:
(Rating: 3.5 / 5)
If this first-person rendition was merely fiction, it would stand alone as a heart wrenching, and inspirational page-turner, but, the fact that this is based on the reality of Enaiatollah Akbadi's perilous journey from Afghanistan to Italy makes it more than just an entertaining adventure story, but a lesson. One we could all stand to learn from.
It is frank, revealing and the words are true, and like Hemmingway said: 'all you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.' Every page had a sense of that for me. Following the journey of a young asylum seeker in the contemporary world really put things into perspective, especially with what the world is experiencing at the minute.
We are still lucky, we are blessed and we have not faced real hardship. The majority of us have a roof over our heads, warmth, clean water and good food on our tables every day - we need to remember that people do not.
I found this book incredibly informative, as yes I read the news and stay up to date with what is going on in the rest of the world, but how much do we, in the 'first world', really understand about the reality of the lives of refugees?
Enaiat's story begins with abandonment - his mother whispers her three pieces of advice into his ear as he falls asleep:
Never use drugs
Never use weapons
Never cheat or steal
before she disappears, leaving Enaiat in the town of Quetta, on the Pakistani border. She does this to save him from living in permanent danger in their home village, as Enaiat is a Hazara. And there is a saying among the Taliban: 'Tajikistan for the Tajiks; Uzbekistan for the Uzbeks and 'Goristan' for the Hazara.' Gor means 'grave', and savage killing sprees of the Hazara are a regular occurrence.
This novel is filled with endless jeopardy, yet we are shown just how much resilience and perseverance one small boy can possess. He never loses faith, and the belief that human kindness still exists.
This book, 'based on a true story', is short, simple and to the point. There is no huge high-level view taken on politics, or the Taliban or of what is right and wrong in the Middle East. Instead it focuses on how all of these hugely important and complex things affect one small boy. And how, despite it all, he figures out how to survive.
Enaiat's voice is charming, As such a small and inexperienced boy, he takes all of the horrible situations in his stride, remains positive as if they should be expected; as though all little boys should find themselves having to hide in the back of lorries, and in rubber rafts out at sea in the middle of the night.
My one critique of the novel, if you can call it that, is that it nearly made me cry. Only nearly. Yes, it was heart wrenching and extraordinary to read but I think the simplistic style of writing left something out; something just didn't quite 'jump off of the page'.
I wanted to connect with Enaiat more, truly experience his pain and see the world solely through his eyes for a while. And something just, fell a little flat.
With this being said, it was a great read. I finished it in two sittings, and I did always want to read on. I wanted to find out what happened next and if he made it and found a new place to call 'home'.
I would say that it's suitable for the 11+ age range, like I mentioned, we are going to be teaching the novel next year (so I'll update you and let you know how that goes!) but there is no reason why adults can't also enjoy this. I maybe would have liked a little bit of a more in-depth view on the political side of things, but that was not the point of this book.
The point was to highlight the strength of humans.
No matter how much adversity is thrown our way, no matter how many people may be 'out to get you', you can surprise, and thrive. And there will always be a handful of people out there who truly surprise you.
So when you do find them, hold on and never let go.
If you have read this book, or are planning on giving it a read, comment below and let me know your thoughts!
Much love and happy reading,