Sami and his grandfather escaped Afghanistan and traveled through Iran, Turkey, and Greece to make it to Boston, Massachusetts, where now they must learn to adapt to a new country, a foreign language, and a completely different culture.
In Boston, Sami and Baba try to make a living in music by playing the Afghani rebab, which Baba managed to keep safe during their journey. But one day while Sami is watching over the instrument while busking, someone steals it and disappears into a subway train. Sami has the month of Ramadan to recover the rebab. To do this he must find a way to earn $700 without Baba finding out, so he begins a sequence of trades. Along the way, Sami’s soccer team joins him in his struggle to get the rebab back. But flashbacks from his escape from war-torn Afghanistan keep coming back to haunt him; every time he crosses the Charles River he thinks of the journey across the Mediterranean, when water meant drowning and dehydration. Sami narrates in the present tense, his desperation to recover the rebab, his sorrow at leaving his home, and his acclimatization to Boston, English, and American customs made plain. It pulls readers into Sami’s quest to regain stability in his new life, making it impossible for readers not to empathize with his longing for a home.
Both a quest story and a friendship story, this book brings to life the traumatic reality refugee children experience in a world filled with borders and walls. (Fiction. 8-12)