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Crossing the Farak River

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For Hasina and her younger brother Araf, the constant threat of Sit Tat, the Myanmar Army, is a way of life in Rakhine province—just uttering the name is enough to send chills down their spines. As Rohingyas, they know that when they hear the wop wop wop of their helicopters there is one thing to do—run, and don’t stop. So when soldiers invade their village one night, and Hasina awakes to her aunt’s fearful voice, followed by smoke, and then a scream, run is what they do.

Hasina races deep into the Rakhine forest to hide with her cousin Ghadiya and Araf. When they emerge some days later, it is to a smouldering village. Their house is standing, but where is the rest of her family? With so many Rohingyas driven out, Hasina must figure out who she can trust for help and summon the courage to fight for her family amid the escalating conflict that threatens her world and her identity.

Fast-paced and accessibly written, Crossing the Farak River tackles an important topic frequently in the news but little explored in fiction. It is a poignant and thought-provoking introduction for young readers to the miliatry crackdown and ongoing persecution of Rohingya people, from the perspective of a brave and resilient protagonist.

224 pages, Hardcover

First published April 14, 2020

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About the author

Michelle Aung Thin

4 books2 followers
Michelle Aung Thin is a novelist, essayist and senior lecturer at RMIT University and the author of several novels.

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5 stars
23 (18%)
4 stars
58 (46%)
3 stars
39 (31%)
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3 (2%)
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2 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 34 reviews
Profile Image for Calzean.
2,599 reviews1 follower
January 11, 2020
This book is part of a series designed for Australian classrooms covering the experiences of various children living either in a disaster area or within a war zone.
Hasina is a 14 year old Rohingyan girl living rural Rakhine, Myanmar. Her village was once peaceful with the people of various ethnicities and beliefs living in harmony. Slowly the rights of the Muslim Rohingyans are being eroded. One day the Army arrives and life changes for ever.
The book serves its purpose well; a good background into contemporary Mynamar and a sense of the horror of being powerless in your own land.
Profile Image for Emily.
Author 1 book588 followers
February 15, 2020
Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a free e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

Hasina and her little brother Araf live in constant fear of the Myanmar army, or Sit Tat. As Rohingyas, they are in danger in their own home. When the army attacks in the night, Hasina, along with her brother and cousin run into the forest to hide. But when they return, everyone has gone. Hasina is left to take care of her family and learn what happened to her parents and aunt.

I love discovering books that take place in countries that just don't get written about, especially when they are aimed at children. I had never read anything that took place in Myanmar before, so I was very excited to read this book. I think this story is a great introduction to the unstable situation in that country. It felt very real and had a great sense of place. I found myself feeling very stressed out for what Hasina was going through and stayed up very late into the night so that I could finish the story. This book is aimed at upper middle grade (I would say ages 12 and up), but I found it very informative and readable. I highly recommend checking this out!
Profile Image for Dharma.
86 reviews
May 16, 2023
I did not know anything about this specific crisis, and this book was enlightening in that way.
But the writing was not polished at all, and felt targeted at a much younger audience, even though the subject was not for that group. But it was still a good read.
Profile Image for D.T. Henderson.
Author 4 books58 followers
May 22, 2022
This has a very slow start, but it becomes very informative and engaging. I couldn’t put this down though it’s hard to read about people being displaced and mistreated.

Profile Image for Edward Sullivan.
Author 5 books204 followers
April 22, 2021
A fast-paced, compelling, and timely story about the brutal persecution of the Rohingya Muslim minority by the Myanmar Army in the Rakhine province told through the perspective of fourteen-year-old Hasina who must seek refuge with her family when her village is destroyed by soldiers.

Profile Image for Michelle Kidwell.
Author 39 books74 followers
January 24, 2020
Crossing the Farak River
by Michelle Aung Thin

Annick Press Ltd.

Annick Press

Children's Fiction

Pub Date 07 Apr 2020

I am reviewing a copy of Crossing the Farak River through Annick Press and Netgalley:

For Hasina and her little brother Araf, the constant threat of the Sit Tat, the Myanmar Army, it had in fact become a way of life in the Rakhine province. Just the mention of the Sit Tat sends chills down their spines. They know that the only thing to do when the sound of the helicopters, they run and not stop. When soldiers invade their village one night, and Hasina awakes to her aunt's fearful voice, followed by smoke, and then a scream, they do as they always do and run.

Hasina races deep into the Rakhine to hide with her cousin and Araf, when they emerge days later it is to a smoldering village, their house is still standing but their family is gone. Where could they be, have the soldiers taken them?

I found Crossing the Farak River five out of five stars, this would be a good teaching tool for middle grade to junior high school students, teaching of culture, and the effects of war!

Happy Reading!
Profile Image for Rachel Knuttel.
677 reviews7 followers
June 15, 2020
Thanks to the @kidlitexchange network for a review copy of this book - all opinions are my own.

This book is an excellent combination of entertaining and educational. It’s not like it’s intended to be super educational, but that just comes from being centered around a topic I didn’t know too much about! Hasina is a Muslim girl living in Myanmar. She and her family are very happy in their village until tensions start to grown and the Rohingya Muslims become targets, forced by the government to evacuate to Bangladesh. After one terrifying night, Hasina, her cousin Ghadiya, and her little brother Araf are separated from all the adults in their family and have to survive on their own. This in turn sets off a chain of events that will test the kids’ strength and determination. The variety of challenges they face means that this story is fast paced and never gets boring. It also does a great job of covering some very heavy topics in a way that is serious but not overwhelming for kids. I really wanted to read this book because I have never seen or read a book set in Myanmar or that deals with the Rohingya crisis. It’s a great title to add to your library to increase representation for a variety of cultures. The back says intended for grades 6+ but I can easily see this in my 5th grade classroom. It would be great as a read aloud where the teacher can offer support for some of the cultural concepts that might be very foreign to some students. I found myself googling a lot while I read to educate myself, including maps and history of Myanmar and the process of growing and harvesting rice. The author does a FANTASTIC job with some of the BEST back matter I have seen in a long time. In addition to the map in the front, there is an author's note, timeline of Myanmar’s history, glossary of terms in multiple languages, and a list of additional resource links. Like, WOW!! The only reason this book is 4 stars and not 5 is because the third person present tense POV made me feel a little bit outside of the characters' heads. But it’s also just my least favorite POV and it tends to pull me out of the story...I’m picky about this! But I ❤️ this book!!
Profile Image for Daisey.
156 reviews
April 22, 2020
I enjoyed this middle grade story about a young girl and her family that face severe persecution in Myanmar as a member of Rohingya cultural group. I appreciated the close relationship between the family members and the other friendships they built in order to survive their situation.

*I received a free electronic copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review.
Profile Image for Laura Gardner.
1,670 reviews113 followers
March 1, 2020
ALL THE STARS for this incredible book about the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar from the perspective of a young teenage girl. Thanks to @annick_press for the free review copy to share with @kidlitexchange. This comes out 4/14/20....
"You are Rohingya. You are a target."...

I read this YA novel in one sitting, unable to stop. Author Michelle Aung Thin has written a thriller that draws attention to the Rohingya humanitarian crisis, as well as related problems of military rule, child trafficking, etc. Hasina is an incredible protagonist -- she is afraid of her responsibilities, but she finds strength within to face the many challenges that come her way. The author is Burmese Australian and escaped Burma (now Myanmar) with her parents when she was an infant. Extensive back matter (an author's note, a timeline, a glossary, suggested resources) will add context for readers unfamiliar with the Rohingya crisis. Recommended for grades 6+. ...

Hasina and her young brother Araf live in Myanmar with their extended family. They are Muslim, but more importantly they are Rohingya, a persecuted ethnic group in Myanmar. Everyday life is difficult; they can no longer attend school and they are targeted in the village bazaar for the color of their skin and for being Rohingya. When civil war breaks out and their home is attacked in the middle of the night, her baba (father) tells her to run with her brother and cousin and not to stop. The three end up in the Rakhine forest where they subsist for days on water from a stream and some prawns they find. When they return to their home, they find it mostly destroyed. Hasina must help her family survive with few resources and the heavy burden of not knowing the whereabouts of her parents. She will face many challenges from feeding her family to protecting her younger brother safe from child traffickers. ...

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Profile Image for Kate Waggoner.
400 reviews
August 2, 2020

Thank you to @annick_press for sharing an ARC of Crossing the Farak River by #MichelleAungThin with the #KidLitExchange Network. This book was released in April 2020. All opinions are my own.

Hasina lives with her little brother, cousin (Ghadiya), aunt, grandmother, and parents in the Rakhine province. Their family are Rohingya and Muslim. Because of this they live in fear of the constant threat of the Sit Tat, the Myanmar Army. One day the helicopters come. Then, one night, their village is invaded. Hasina wakes up to screams and smoke. Her father urges her to take her brother and cousin and run stating that he will come for them when it's safe. The three children take off into the night and hide in the high forest. They wait for days for Hasina's father to retrieve them, but he never comes. Finally, the three decide they must return to their home. They find their village in ashes. Their home is still partially standing, but where is their family?

This is a powerful and moving young adult novel about the Rohingya Crisis. Hasina is a strong and resilient protagonist. She is under an incredible amount of responsibility. She must take care of herself and her younger cousin and brother. Their parents are missing, their home is destroyed, they have no money, limited food and/supplies, and because they're Rohingya it's dangerous for them to be in the village or enter the market. Instead of crumpling under the pressures, Hasina finds an inner strength and pulls her family through. This book draws attention to and introduces middle grade and YA readers to the ongoing persecution of the Rohingya people, something that many of them are probably unaware of. I love that it includes an author's note, timeline, and glossary that add background to the story to help the reader understand the full impact of Hasina's story. This is a poignant and thought-provoking novel. Though a YA novel, I believe this book would be appropriate for grades 6+.
Profile Image for Abbie.
19 reviews1 follower
April 15, 2020
Thanks to the @kidlitexchange network for the review copy own.

Reading about experiences is more impactful on my learning than any other medium. Storytelling is powerful; teaching kids through sharing stories is the reason why I am a librarian.

That’s why this book is so important. Crossing the Farak River is an #ownvoices title, reads like a thriller, and touches on topics like human trafficking, violence, and death, all through the perspective of middle-grade protagonist Hasina.

TBH, I didn’t know anything about the ongoing conflict among the Arakan Army, Muslims, Buddhists, Burmese, and Rohingyas. While the situations affecting Hasina are heavy, Thin writes well for a younger audience. She gives us a raw view of what it’s like to be a young girl facing all of these issues, asking the right questions, but not quite grasping what it all means and why it’s affecting her family. This book tells an incredible story of a girl who fights to keep herself and her younger family members safe after an attack on her home and the disappearance of their parents. Kids will relate to Hasina’s longing for normalcy, her grit and perseverance, and they will empathize with her struggle.

There is a lot going in the world right now. After reading this, I have the ability to think and feel more deeply about the persecution of Rohingya people, and a better vocabulary to share stories about refugees to younger students. I feel lucky that we have writers like @michelleaungthin to articulate tough topics , and publishers like @annickpress willing to put incredible stories like this one out in the world. Thank you!
Profile Image for Betsy Strauss.
35 reviews5 followers
April 28, 2020
I've been fascinated with Myanmar recently. I love books like Crossing the Farak River that take you into life in a foreign country. Unfortunately for Hasina and her younger brother Araf, the instability of their country will change their way of life forever.

As Rohingyas, Muslim people inhabiting western Myanmar, their families are seen as terrorist and no longer welcome in the land in which they've lived for generations. When soldiers invade their village one night, the family is separated. This survivor tale highlights the strength of character of these young people as they struggle to stay together against all odds.

This was a difficult read for me for several reasons: (1) Everything is completely foreign. The landscape, the language, and the culture required me to work harder at imagining and thinking than I would while reading a book set in a familiar place. (2) Persecution of innocent people is tough to read. My heart broke for these children who were living in terrifying conditions on their own. (3) It is a nail biter to the end. When I thought it couldn't get any more difficult, a new challenge to survival would arise.

I think that this is an important story to tell. Human rights are still being violated today and this book opens those ideas up to middle grade readers in an approachable way.

I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley. All of my opinions are my own!
Profile Image for Carmen.
558 reviews57 followers
January 31, 2021
I received a gifted copy of Crossing the Farak River by Michelle Aung Thin from Annick Press in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from the book: Like all Rohingyas in Rakhine province, Hasina lives in constant threat of SIt Tat, the Myanmar Army. The wop wop wop of their helicopters means one thing only - run, and don’t stop. So when soldiers invade her village one night, she races deep into the forest to hide with her brother, Araf, and her cousin Guadiana. When they return days later to find their family missing and the Rohingyas driven out, Hasina must fight to survive amidst a conflict that threatens her whole world.

I knew from reading the synopsis of the story that this was not going to be an easy read. While it is a relatively short middle grade novel, the content is more serious and important to know about. Through this narrative, I was able to better understand the situation in Myanmar and how these different groups of people have been caught up in the conflict that resulted in so many displaced peoples. It is a story of war and abuse, but it is also a story of hope, family, and community. Reading Hasina’s story, you cannot help but root for this young girl as she tries her best to protect those around her, even as many things are out of her control. This is a must read story.

Thank you to Annick Press for sending me this book.
Profile Image for Keshia Harvey.
83 reviews2 followers
July 4, 2020
@kidlitexchange #partner Thanks to the #kidlitexchange network, publisher @annick_press, and author #michelleaungthin for the review copy of this book - all opinions are my own! Crossing the Farak River tells the story of Hasina, a Rohingya Muslim living in Myanmar. Although the rights of the Rohingya have been slowly taken away, Hasina mostly enjoys her life with her family. Until the day they see helicopters fly overhead. This is the beginning of her town being cleared of Rohingya people. When their street is set on fire, Hasina escapes into the forest with her cousin and younger brother. But when they return, their family is gone. We follow as Hasina figures out how to care for and feed her family while trying to find where her parents are or if they are even still alive. This book highlighted an important crisis that I honestly did not know much about. At the end, the author included a timeline of the history of Myanmar and resources to learn more about Myanmar and the crisis the Rohingya people are facing. I’d recommend this book for readers ages 13 and up.
Profile Image for Caroline.
177 reviews1 follower
June 15, 2020
Hasina lives in Rakhine State in Myanmar with her younger brother Araf, her cousin, aunt, grandmother, father and mother. She loves studying math, playing soccer, and walking to the bazaar to visit her father at work. But rising tensions in her hometown come to a head one night when military troops come in the night to drive Muslim Rohingya people from their homes. Hasina, Araf, and their cousin go running to hide in the woods - becoming separated from their parents and struggling to survive in a community that views them as enemies.

This is a harrowing story of violence and target persecution from a Burmese-Australian author. The narrative progresses quickly and unpacks many horrors that many young people and their families experience around the world. A timeline and author's note provide helpful insight - especially the reminder that human rights violations are still a reality in Myanmar. A hard read but a timely and important one.
Profile Image for Libby.
972 reviews20 followers
March 12, 2020
This story of 14-year-old Hasina allows the reader to step into the reality behind the headlines about the plight of the Rohingya people. I think it is because of that news element and because it's trying to describe a setting and culture that is foreign to many English speaking readers that the book often feels like it's explaining rather than just telling a story. Although there is action from the very first page, it took me about half of the book to really connect with Hasina. Recommended for middle grade readers who enjoy books that give them a window into another culture.
Based on a review copy through NetGalley.
Profile Image for Juliette.
180 reviews10 followers
September 30, 2020
This book is also part of the Through My Eyes series in Australia that is being read in school. It covers the topic of the Rohingya crisis and it follows Hasina, who was separated from her parents after an attack on her village and who is now taking care of her younger brother and cousin.

I think this is a very important addition to the Australian curriculum and wish it would be added to more. The writing style is immersive and emotional. The story is heart-wrenching. If you don't know much about the Rohingya crisis, this is an important book to pick up.

There's lots to take out from this novel, and it is definitely not just for children and students.
Profile Image for Joy Clark.
425 reviews27 followers
June 4, 2020
If you want to know more about the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar, or even if you don't, you should read this book. It's classified as a middle grade novel, but it's written much better than most, in my opinion. I often get annoyed with middle grade books because the author appears to simplify the language to an almost condescending degree. I didn't feel that way here, and the story is one of the few I've seen regarding this particular subject.
Profile Image for The Marvelous Ms. Kaia.
346 reviews1 follower
August 23, 2020
I did enjoy the book because it taught me about a new issue that I had no idea about. It’s sad what the issue is, but if more people know about it they can try to help fix it. The only things I didn’t like was that I wasn’t sure when the book took place, and which person it was in. The type of person I did know, but it was quite odd to read as the author wrote it as if it was happening as we read it, but when this style was combined with the choice of person, it made it seem like a script. 12+
Profile Image for Marcie.
526 reviews
April 27, 2020
Michelle Aung Thin's Crossing the Farak River is a gripping story about the current Rohingya crisis. Hasina's narrative furnishes the humanness that news story statistics lack, and the addition of a map, time line, and glossary allows the reader to better grasp the complexities of the multicultural conflict.
Profile Image for Stephanie H.
224 reviews1 follower
March 26, 2022
Hasina and her family are forced to give up the life they have known in this story about a Rohingya family in Myanmar.

This book was a quite and enlightening read that touched on what many children in Myanmar are probably going through during the current crisis. It was very informative and engagingly written for young readers.
Profile Image for Aaryn.
313 reviews2 followers
October 5, 2020
This middle grade novel is tough to read but is so good. It focuses on a young Rohingya girl in Myanmar and her struggle to keep her brother and cousin safe when their village is attacked. Timely and powerful, recommended for ages 10 and up.
9 reviews
November 9, 2020
This book is a realistic fiction on living with the constant fear of the Myanmar army, or so-called Sit Tat. It incorporates real events into a half fictional scene with dialogue and word choice of fear which makes it the book really relatable to anyone around their age. Although I really liked the story and I think it should be heard by everyone, it was a confusing story to me. The overall pace was quite slow for a book that contains a lot of action but it contained many plot twists that I liked. I would recommend it to anyone who wants a read about the story of Myanmar and the situation with their army or just anyone who wants a more serious book from the perspective of a teen in general.
June 23, 2022
This book was well-written and engaging. I learned a lot about the trials of the Rohingya, and the greater unrest in Myanmar as a whole. I had heard news reports about it, but being embedded in the crisis through fiction was a lot more impactful.
Profile Image for Alina Karapandzich.
183 reviews1 follower
October 2, 2020
The ending felt a little abrupt and I wish she had wrote a few more chapters but this is definitely a must-read for everyone for information on the Rohingya refugee crisis.
January 23, 2023
Ok read, felt as though the ending was very abrupt and anticlimactic compared to most of the story line. Especially the last few chapters.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 34 reviews

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