FICTION

Crossing the Farak ­River

Annick. Apr. 2020. 224p. Tr ISBN 9781773213972; pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781773213965.
COPY ISBN
Gr 6 Up–Drawing upon historical research and personal family history, Thin crafts a compelling story of life in the Rakhine province. Myanmar is a country in crisis, and 14-year-old Hasina’s life is forever changed the day the helicopters arrive. It starts with a sinking feeling in her stomach, and shortly after the soldiers take over her entire village, rounding up all who identify as Rohingyas. As her community burns, Hasina escapes with her brother and cousin to the nearby forest. Motivated by her father’s last words to keep the family together, Hasina wonders: Will their parents find them? Where will they go? How will they survive? Readers will find themselves gripped by the novel’s rapidly changing events. While the plot touches upon difficult topics like human trafficking, violence, and death, they are referenced at a level appropriate and accessible for middle grades. Thin includes a time line, geographical resources, and a glossary to help readers better understand the ongoing conflict among the Arakan Army, Muslims, Buddhists, Burmese, and Rohingyas.
VERDICT This title offers high readability and lends itself to nonfiction pairings exploring the cultural history and governance of Myanmar. A must-purchase for all middle grade libraries focused on building a diverse collection featuring complex world issues and #OwnVoices authors.

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