Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Eleventh Trade

33952274Hollingsworth, Alyssa. The Eleventh Trade.
September 18th 2018 by Roaring Brook Press
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Sami and his grandfather have managed to escape Afghanistan after the violent deaths of Sami's parents, and have made their way across Europe to live in the Boston area. His grandfather (who was a well respected musician) has been earning a little money busking, playing the rebab, one of the few possessions they managed to take with them. When the instrument is stolen, Sami is bereft, although his grandfather is understanding and gets work as a dishwasher. When Sami trades his Manchester United key chain to Peter for an I Pod, hoping he can trade or sell it to get money to buy the rebab back, classmate Dan comes to his aid. The I Pod is broken, but he fixes it, and he helps Sami locate the pawn shop that has the instrument. The owner says he will hold it for a month, but it will cost $700 to retrieve it. Dan proves helpful not only in facilitating some of the trades, but in getting Sami involved in a soccer league and in introducing him to his friends. Throughout a series of trades, we see the difficulties that Sami and his grandfather are facing, and when a graduate student pays Sami for an interview, we learn even more details about what happened in Afghanistan. Even with help from friends, it's difficult to come up with that kind of money, but Sami and his grandfather find a supportive community that come to their aid in order to improve their lives just a tiny bit.
Strengths: The framework of the trading, plus the deadline at the pawn shop, moves this one along with a little bit of suspense. The details about Sami's escape from Afghanistan plus those about life in the US as a refugee are going to be helpful for young readers who don't understand what this could be like. The inclusion of soccer is brilliant. The strong and supportive community, and especially the friendship of Dan, are all very hopeful and set a good example for how we should all treat people. While not an #OwnVoice book, the author has done a lot of research and employed a variety of sensitivity readers and fact checkers.
Weaknesses: There are a few too many fortuitous circumstances in retrieving the rebab, but it does make for a feel good story.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing and excited to hand to students. The cover is great and will really help sell the book! I think my ESL teacher is going to want several copies of this!

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