Sunday, November 4, 2012

In The Sea There Are Crocodiles by Fabio Geda

Fabio Geda is an Italian novelist who works with children in trouble.  In The Sea There Are Crocodiles is his book detailing the memoir of Enaiatollah Akbari, an Afhganistian young man who, after years of being on his own and facing obstacles many people never encounter, became an immigrant in Italy.

When Enaiatollah was about ten (he is not sure of his birthday or exact age), his mother took him on a trip to Pakistan.  After a few days he awoke one morning to find her gone.  She had gone back home, leaving him to make his way in a foreign land where he didn't speak the language or have anyone to look out for him.  He spent a year in Pakistan, working wherever he could find a job and sleeping anywhere he could. 

The next three years Enaiatollah spent in Iran.  There he worked construction.  The work was brutal and the hours long.  Periodically, the police raided the sites and sent all the illegal workers back to their countries.  The workers had to pay the costs of this repatriation, so it was difficult to save any money.  Enaiatillah made friends there among the other workers, but one lesson he learned early was not to get attached to anyone else.  After three years, he tired of the constant stress and work and decided to go with a group of friends to Turkey.

This was by far the most difficult journey he undertook.  What he was told was a three day walk turned into almost four weeks climbing into the mountains and fighting the cold and hunger.  At the end of that journey, was a three day trip stuffed into a false bottom in a truck. 

After time spent in Turkey, he and four acquaintances struck out for Greece.  They had to row a dinghy across the ocean between the two countries; five boys who had never seen the ocean, who had never rowed a bow or known how to swim.  Eventually, Enaiatollah left Greece in a ship container, bound for who knew where.  He ended up in Italy and was lucky enough to find people there who helped him and a government that granted him asylum. 

Readers will not be able to stop reading this mesmerizing tale of this young boy's struggles and travels.  Parents will be heartbroken to think of a life so barren that the best one can do for your child is to abandon him in a foreign country with no way to monitor his safety or even his survival.  All you can give him is a chance. Enaiatollah's courage is admirable, but there are repercussions.  The story is told in a very flat affect and it is obvious that he has walled off his emotions in order to survive the brutal life he was handed.  This book is recommended for all readers; a compelling and ultimately satisfying read.

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