It all starts with an empty chair at the back of the room. It had been empty because one of the girls in the class had moved to another part of Great Britain. So when a boy comes in one day to fill the chair, Alexa and her three friends are intrigued. Especially when the boy doesn’t act like other new kids. He doesn’t seem to want to make friends at all and he doesn’t talk. In fact, during recess he goes off by himself and everyone begins to wonder just what his story is.
As Ahmet’s story begins to come out, Alexa and her friends realize that it is quite the story. It makes her want to be his friend more than anything, but it is hard since he doesn’t know much English. Still, Alexa persists and when everyone in the class learns that Ahmet has been separated from his mother and father, Alexa and her friends decide they must do something to help their new friend and a plan is hatched.
The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Rauf is a timely book looking at the refugee issues facing the world today. For anyone struggling to understand how a refugee might feel or some of the barriers they face, this would be a good place to start.
Recommended for grades 6 and up.