Boy, this was GOOD.
I lingered over breakfast this morning, so I could finish the last twenty or so pages. Then I had to sit a little longer to be able to swallow the big lump of emotion in my throat when I was done.
This is a novel based entirely on the true story of ten year old Enaiatollah Akbari from Afghanistan who wakes up in a strange place in a different country, to discover that he has been abandoned by his mother. Thus, at ten, and very much alone, he begins his journey to survive. The story is a frightening account of how a young boy makes his way in unfamiliar places, remembering what his mother taught him and recognizing good along the way. I especially appreciated that the story was presented in Enaiatollah's voice, as many ugly and unthinkable things were made to feel somehow less hard; as if they were being discovered for the first time, through the eyes of an innocent boy. I loved that the author was so taken by Enaiatollah's story. He inserts his own voice periodically into the tale; recording bits of their conversations together, as if to emphasize the amazing things this boy has been through and overcome. I was silently cheering and hoping for the best during the two quick days that I spent reading, but consoled myself (when I got worried) by remembering that he makes it. It is his story, afterall.
The Italian author, Fabio Geda, meets Enaiatollah at a book presentation where he was speaking about his first novel, a story about a Romanian boy's life as an immigrant in Italy. Enaiatollah approaches Geda and says that he'd had a similar experience. In the Sea there are Crocodiles is the re-telling of Enaiatollah's story exactly as he tells it to Geda. And it has been beautifully translated into English, which I am grateful for. This goes right to the top of my favorites list for 2011.
I found the book at the library; I plucked it off the shelf purely because the cover art intrigued me. I hope your library has a copy too.