by Nadia Hashimi, published 2018
“I’m terrified to see my mother being taken away. I want to pull her out of there, and hold her hand as we run back to our apartment. I don’t do any of that. I’m sacred and angry and sad.”
A children’s book like this one is a stunning example of the one excellent purpose for children’s literature: to help children deal with the reality of a harsh world, and come out with hopes and dreams still alive. The other mission this children’s book fulfills is to take the events of today and make them alive and real for children, so that children see clearly a way out.
In this case, the primary issue is the incredible injustice of our current immigration enforcement, which is ripping children away from their parents, and parents away from their children. It is also sending people back to countries where their lives are at risk. The family in this story is from Afghanistan. But they could easily be from any number of countries that have suddenly become targets of small-minded Americans.
But don’t think this children’s book is about politics. It is not. It is about the way children can summon forth courage they didn’t know they had, in order to survive. Survive in this case simply means finding their way around New York City on their own, to locate help for themselves.
I won’t give the drama away, but once I picked up the book, I was unable to put it down until the end. The plot, the characters, the background stories, the excitement, and the excellent writing make this a non-stop read. I hope every young person in America finds their way to this book, best for ages 10 and up. Even better, use it in a classroom and discuss how to take action. Even better than that, learn to love the diversity in our country, so a children’s book like this would not be needed.