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Raji, Book One: Octavia Pompeii

5 star review by Cole's Mom


Raji:Book One is a story perfect for our time. I will send it to my son to read aloud with his 10 year old, 8year old and 7 year old. Raji is the story of a young girl from another country who does not speak English and has nothing. She shows up at a home where the mother is away vaccinating children from a deadly disease, the father is medically disabled and may or may not recover and the son is trying to keep a farm running on his own. They barely have enough to get by.


So what happens when this terrified young girl shows up in their barn, creeps into the house and steals food while the son is at school?


Many are asking these kinds of questions today. There are thousands of Afghan refugees who are lucky to escape their country but now have nothing. Where do they go? Who will take them in? Many in our country are facing absence of parents who work in medical care, who are fighting an extremely contagious pandemic. Many people have lost jobs. Many have died. What , then, is our response to strangers in dire need?


Everyone's response will be uniquely their own. I think, though, that it is of great benefit for families to explore together. Raji can be an essential part of that discussion. Besides that, the writing itself is great. Fuse and Raji will draw you to themselves and their story in no time.

December, 1925. Vincent Fusilier finds Raji sleeping in his parents’ barn. He thinks she’s a vagrant and tells her she has to go. She doesn’t understand English and doesn’t know where she is. Over the next few months, these two teens struggle to understand each other’s language and culture.

        Excerpt from Chapter One

She heard a loud, metallic click when the knob moved in her hand, then she slipped through, gently closing the door behind her. The warmth of the kitchen wrapped around her like a soft blanket.

So nice. I feel like I have been cold forever.


A plate of biscuits sat on the table.

 

She tiptoed toward them. 


Does the boy live here alone?


She put her suitcase on the table, grabbed a biscuit, and wolfed it down. 


Oh, how good it is to have something to eat. 


Five biscuits remained. Across the kitchen, a metal pitcher sat on the counter beside a plate covered with a tea towel. She peeked into the pitcher; water. As she drank from the spout, she lifted the tea towel to check the plate and almost choked; six strips of meat rested on the plate. She grabbed one and ate it in two bites, not caring if it was beef or not, then washed it down with more water. Meat had seldom been a part of her diet, and certainly not beef, but hunger overpowered her beliefs.
 

         

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