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Eisele, Terry & Bowman, Brent – Far Tune: Autumn

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Far Tune: Autumn

If you’re wondering why a book would be called “Far Tune,” Terry and Brent don’t leave you in suspense for long. This book (and this series of books, I believe the plan is for one covering each season) is about a young Somali girl named Fartun, and “far tune” is how she helps out people who are confused as to the possible pronunciation of her name. Seems obvious to me from the spelling, but never underestimate the willful ignorance of Americans. This starts off with Fartun and her family (father, mother and brother) in a refugee camp in Kenya. Things aren’t great, obviously, but the people there are living as best they can. We flash forward a bit to 2005 with the family living in a rough looking apartment building in Columbus Ohio. Bit by bit we get pieces of Fartun’s life at the time, including her family dynamic (her mother had sadly passed away at the refugee camp, leaving just the three of them), her awkwardness with her two Somali friends (later revealed to be because she hadn’t clued them in as to where she was going to school for ninth grade), and of starting at a new school. This takes up a significant chunk of the book, but Fartun was lucky enough to find a friend very quickly, so she was able to settle in, or at least pick up a routine. This a roundabout way of me saying that the story surprised me at several turns, as I was afraid this would be a tale of bullying or having to compromise to fit in, but no, Fartun was remarkably self-assured at that age, while of course still being aware of the potential for problems all around her. I was also worrying about overt racism being inescapable, what with the time frame and all (9/11 cast a long shadow against anybody who was brown, kids who weren’t old enough to notice at the time), but while it does pop up here and there, overall this is just the story of Fartun living her life, trying to fit in her daily prayers and dealing with her family/school/work dynamic. Terry (the writer) said at CXC that he got to know Fartun later while he was teaching, and I’m hoping he gets into that in one of these volumes because it seems like there’s a story to be told there too. It’s a solid first book of the series, as I’m very tempted to just tear through the series so far (yes, of course I bought all three books that were available; after “With Only Five Plums” I’m thoroughly on board for whatever project Terry is working on). Give it a shot, there’s a lot to like here. $10 (although if you’re lucky he might be willing to do a package deal for a few volumes)