Monday, March 4, 2019

Middle Grade Monday: The Eleventh Trade by Alyssa Hollingworth

The Eleventh Trade by Alyssa Hollingsworth. 304 p. Roaring Brook Press, September, 2018. 9781250155764. (Review of purchased finished copy.)

Middle Grade Monday features The Eleventh Trade by Alyssa Hollingsworth. This impressive debut is the first-person narration by Sami, newly arrived in Boston with his grandfather, Babi and Babi's beloved musical instrument, his rebab and very little else. The two fled tragedy in Syria and Babi busks in the streets of Boston for their livelihood. When the rebab is stolen, Sami feels guilt over the theft and, with the help of some new-found friend finds it in a pawn shop, where he must buy it back for $700. He convinces the owner  to hold it for him and embarks on a series of trades to earn the rebab back. 

The present tense narration builds suspense and Sami's story of immigration is heartbreaking. Sami's attempt to learn English and deal not only with his apparent PTSD but also life in yet another new country are vividly depicted and highlights his resilience. Readers will empathize and ache for Sami as his subterfuges begin to damage his relationship with his beloved Babi. Readers who loved Refugee or Nowhere Boy will enjoy The Eleventh Trade but really, this is a book everyone should read. 

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