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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Hiding in the Light by Rifqa Barry

Scared and lonely, Rifqa tried not to listen to the swearing of the man beside her on the Greyhound bus.  The sixteen-year old was on a long journey to Florida from Ohio, and a run-away.  She was terrified of her family but she didn't know what was ahead of her. If she had, she might not have had the courage to make the journey.  But she found strength in her devout Christianity.

Rifqa grew up in Sri Lanka where she was a happy little girl for a while.  However, everything changed when she injured her eye.  Her parents and even her brother were moody and violent towards her. After her uncle sexually assaulted Rifqa, the family moved to America, but the situation grew steadily worse.  She walked a long way to school alone past homeless men; her parents and brother became more abusive; and she had to live the very strict life of a pious Tamil Muslim girl.  She wasn't allowed to associate with her friends and she had to endure several hours of learning the Koran in the summer holidays.  Her parents were going to decide who she should marry.

A kind friend introduced Rifqa to Christianity, and she liked the intimacy of Christian prayer, compared with her own Islam which she thought, focused on externals. However, when her father found out, he threatened to kill her for dishonouring the family. Her mother said that the family was taking her back to Sri Lanka to be put into an asylum.  Rifqa decided to leave everything behind and run away during the night, but would the authorities believe her...

Rifqa has had an incredibly traumatic existence, and she still lives in fear.  This book is harrowing, but her story is inspiring, and she certainly has fantastic strength and courage. This book was well-wroth reading.


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