Jameela cannot forget her brother. While Rafiq is trained to kill in the rebel camp high in the mountains, she keeps his memory alive.
This is another book that I would have NEVER read on my own. It was assigned to me as part of my MFA residency because author Jane Mitchell is Irish.
My little MFA group was super lucky, because Jane Mitchell is friends with our mentor, Edie Hemingway. So Jane actually came to our discussion of Chalkline at Trinity College and talked to us about the journey she took to write this book. Her story was fascinating, and I'm so glad I the opportunity to hear her talk about it!
This book is unlike anything I've ever read, and unlike anything I usually pick up. It's about a young boy who is kidnapped and basically brainwashed into becoming a child soldier for the Kashmiri Freedom Fighters. There is violence in this book. A lot of it. And it really confronts some heavy issues. What I liked the most about it was how much it made me think about myself - I found myself judging Rafiq for some of the things he did, but what would I do in his situation? I'm in no place to judge, really. So it prompted a lot of introspection. (Jane Mitchell said 9/11 was one of the things that prompted her to write this book, which was fitting for me because I thought about 9/11 a lot while reading it. I think about this a lot, actually - who would I be while trying to escape the burning twin towers? The person who helped people? The person who pushed people out of the way? The person who cowered in the corner? We all like to think we would be the person who helps people, but you don't know until you are there. The same thoughts were prompted by this book. I mean, honestly, what would you do in Rafiq's position?)
I can't wait to add this one to my classroom library. I think my students are really going to get a lot out of it.
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