I picked up Crossing the Farak River by Michelle Aung Thin at my local library because I noticed the name – and then when I read the description, realized it’s set in Myanmar (or Burma). My dad has travelled there many times, so I’ve developed an interest in the country and its people.
Crossing the Farak River focuses on the Rohingya – the Muslim people the Myanmar army has forced out of the country into Bangladesh.
Hasina loves to learn, but is forced out of the local schools because she is Rohingya. Her aunt, a teacher forced to leave her home when the army attacks their neighborhood in the south, opens a small school in Hasina’s home.
Then the army threatens Hasina’s village and family. She flees with her little brother and cousin, hiding in the woods.
When they finally return, the children find their home destroyed, their family missing. Now Hasina has to figure out how to keep them all fed – and how to find her parents and her aunt.
Crossing the Farak River is a difficult story with a happy, yet unresolved, ending. Thin does a good job of capturing the hardships of persecution while not being gruesome, and giving readers a glimpse into Hasina’s abrupt transition into adult responsibilities.
Recommended for ages 10 and up.