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This is an outstanding first entry in the ‘Through My Eyes’ series for readers. It takes place in Kashmir, which as one of the longest-running but least-understood modern conflicts. Hawke brings her extensive knowledge of the region to the story of Shahana, a 13-year-old orphan living with her younger brother in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, who risks everything to help a boy from the other side of the border. Their journey is a powerful one, capturing the hardship and humanity of life in a war zone and the difficult choices children face while trying to survive. Hawke doesn’t shy away from the terrible realities of growing up in a place where existence is fragile and exploitation is rife.
This is a wonderful book with some sadness as well. It also hopefully makes us think of how lucky we are to be New Zealanders