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Author: Hollingsworth, Alyssa
They say you can't get something for nothing, but nothing is all Sami has. When his grandfather's most-prized possession--a traditional Afghan instrument called a rebab--is stolen, Sami resolves to get it back. He finds it at a music store, but it costs $700, and Sami doesn't have even one penny. What he does have is a keychain that has caught the eye of his classmate. If he trades the keychain for something more valuable, could he keep trading until he has $700? Sami is about to find out.
Kirkus Reviews (07/15/18)
School Library Journal (00/09/18)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (+) (00/09/18)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 09/01/2018 Gr 4–6—Twelve-year-old Sami and his grandfather, Baba, are Afghan refugees who recently arrived in Boston with their prized musical instrument: a rebab. When the rebab is stolen from them in a subway station, Baba loses his source of income. Determined to find the beloved instrument, Sami befriends a resourceful, tech-savvy, soccer-loving classmate, Dan, who helps Sami locate the rebab in a secondhand music store. Sami must buy it back for $700. Unbeknown to his dispirited grandfather, Sami begins a series of trades to acquire the money, starting with his Manchester United keychain for a seemingly "broken" iPod. Joining Dan's rec center soccer team, Sami makes new friends and discovers a support network of peers and adults who help him regain the rebab and adjust to his new life. Sami's first-person narration is youthful, engaging, observant, and interspersed with personal references: Pashto vocabulary and sayings, vivid recollections of his deceased mother and father, prayer and fasting customs during Ramadan, and searing memories of his escape from a Taliban suicide bombing. Sami is not immune to the harsh realities of theft, poverty, the hate speech of a classmate who labels him a terrorist, and his own recurring nightmares of explosions, death, and harrowing escape. Background information on the Taliban insurgency and U.S. military in Afghanistan is minimal. VERDICT Sami's story sheds light on the special challenges, determination, faith, resilience, and post-traumatic stress that impact and shape the lives of many refugees.—Gerry Larson, formerly at Durham School of the Arts, NC - Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.