18. In the Sea There Are Crocodiles by Fabio Geda

What a harrowing story! I have a friend who is Hazara, and I wanted to understand more of their plight so I read about this book in this article on Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecution_of_Hazara_people). I think it gives one better insight into all refugees, and why they do what they do. In light of what is happening in our world with the Syrian refugee crisis, it gives an inside look into why these people are willing to risk everything to flee from their situations. We will never understand the horrors of being a persecuted people. While we look back at the extermination of the Jews during World War II and say, "Never again," we have such a situation on our hands with persecuted people all over the world. 
The Hazara are Shi'a, and the Taliban and Pashtuns are Sunni. Thus the tension that exists in Afghanistan. Since this book was written, the Hazara are also threatened by ISIS who, yes, is in Afghanistan too (and blowing up Taliban for not being "pure" in their beliefs and practices). 
This boy did not chose to flee, but his mother had enough insight to know why he had to do so. After he sees his teacher murdered by Taliban for refusing to close down a school for Hazara, his mother brings him to Pakistan and leaves him there to fend for himself at 10 years old!
What a journey though! One Teaching Company lecture I heard said that all stories have two plots: "a stranger comes to town" or "a hero goes on a journey." This is definitely the latter, and it is so harrowing and inspiring and amazing. He is definitely a hero in my book. I do not know how this book escaped my notice. I recommend everyone read it to really understand the refugee crisis and why people break the law to get to freedom! 
The boy eventually gets to Italy and tells his story to the author (via Pakistan, Iran, and Greece). 
I listened to the audiobook. I read another person's evaluation of the narrator. It made me think that I was listening to someone to whom English is not there first language. For that reason, I love it even though it took some getting used to. 
I read this story concurrently with The Boys in the Boat and found both main characters (this boy and Joe Rantz) were eerily similar in that they were both abandoned to fend for themselves and how they rose above their circumstances to do great things. The difference is that the mother of this story did it for unselfish reasons, but the parents of Joe Rantz were just plain irresponsible, and the step-mother was incredibly SELFISH and MEAN! Stay tuned for my review of that one next! 

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