The Boy at the Back of the Class
by Onjali Q. Rauf
There are few books that draw raw emotion out of me, even fewer which cause me to cry. This book hit me at my core, bringing tears of sadness and joy because I was proud of these characters. I think, in life, we often shun the things we don’t understand, whether out of fear, misinformation, or simply because we don’t like change; this book tackles these issues face on.
The Boy at the Back of the Class, tells the story of Ahmet, a refugee boy who suddenly appears in the back row of nine-year-old Alexa’s classroom. Ahmet doesn’t speak any English, and it takes some time for Alexa and her three friends to figure out where he came from and how he arrived in their class. This is his story as well, a story about refugees and how much they sacrifice, not because they want to leave their homes, but because they have no choice; staying would mean dying. Getting out isn’t the end of their struggles either; they have to adapt into a society that often doesn’t want them there.
This is a well told story, geared toward a younger audience. It should be required reading in all elementary level classes. It should be required reading for anyone who doesn’t understand the plight of the refugee, who believes they are here for any other reason then survival. It hits home, its powerful, and it helped me understand all the things I truly take for granted. I highly recommend this book.