The Eleventh Trade

Vibrant characters and a lively narrative draw the reader straight into this heart-warming story about life as a refugee featuring Sami and his grandfather Baba who live in Boston having fled the Taliban and their home in Afghanistan via Asia and Europe. A renowned musician in his homeland, Baba now busks on the streets to eke out a living. One day when Sami is taking a turn at playing the rebab in the rush-hour station corridor, Baba’s prized musical instrument is grabbed out of Sami’s hands and stolen.

With all his family apart from his grandfather lost in a Taliban attack, not only is the beautiful rebab the only thing that Sami and Baba have to remind them of home, but it is their only means of making a living. While Baba gets a job washing dishes, Sami secretly determines to get the rebab back. Through the internet Sami finds the rebab for sale. With no money and nothing to sell he trades his Manchester United key fob for a broken iPod and thus as he makes one good trade after another his quest to get the rebab back gets under way. He is helped by friends in his new school, hindered by others, and readers encounter issues around war, migration, family and culture as the story unfolds.

An exciting read with a structure and writing style that will encourage keen and more reluctant readers alike, intergenerational and intercultural relationships are deftly portrayed with a light touch through action that is both natural and believable. Highly recommended!