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Samira Surfs

Samira Surfs

Three months ago, Sami­ra and her fam­i­ly fled their home in Bur­ma to escape per­se­cu­tion, leav­ing beloved fam­i­ly and friends behind. Arriv­ing in Bangladesh, they found the refugee camps full, so they are camped in a tent out­side the bound­aries, scav­eng­ing for food and hygiene. Sami­ra sells hard-boiled eggs to the tourists on the near­by beach. Her father labors on shrimp boats, pro­hib­it­ed from enter­ing the for­mal work­force. Her broth­er is a bus­boy at a restau­rant. Their lives are com­plete­ly changed.

Sami­ra’s fam­i­ly are Rohingya. We learn more about their past and present in this verse nov­el. As an 11-year-old, she rebels against the lim­i­ta­tions her father places on her. Her broth­er will receive an edu­ca­tion, but Sami­ra will not. 

As Sami­ra sells her eggs, she meets oth­er girls and boys, many of them refugees, some of them res­i­dents. The boys surf. They are very com­pet­i­tive. Although Sami­ra fears the water after their life-chang­ing boat trip, she is drawn to surf­ing. With­out a surf board, for­bid­den to take part by her father, and feel­ing bad­ly for steal­ing time from her job, Sami­ra learns to surf. She is moti­vat­ed by a con­test with a large purse. A way out of their cir­cum­stances. Through surf­ing, she gains a group of friends, girls who share her love of rid­ing the waves. 

The surfer girls of Bangladesh are true from life. Here’s a film to watch, Bangla Surf Girls.

 I don’t think I’ve ever read a nov­el about surf­ing before Sami­ra Surfs. I was fas­ci­nat­ed by the set­ting, the sport, and the cul­ture, dif­fer­ent than my own. I appre­ci­at­ed the musi­cal­i­ty of the verse nov­el. But more than any­thing this is a sto­ry of fam­i­ly and friend­ship, and I eager­ly read the sto­ry of these well-writ­ten char­ac­ters and the lives they are re-build­ing together.

Sami­ra Surfs
writ­ten by Rukhsan­na Guidroz
illus­trat­ed by Fah­mi­da Azim
Kok­i­la, 2021
ISBN 978 – 1984816191

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