The moving story of a Kashmiri boy soldier, from a prize-winning Irish author. It's an ordinary morning at nine-year-old Rafiq's school in rural Kashmir when the silence of dawn prayers is ripped apart by gunfire. Soldiers of the Kashmir Freedom Fighters have raided the village in search of new recruits - they scrawl a line in chalk across the schoolroom wall, and any boy whose height reaches the line will be taken to fight.
Rafiq is tall for his age - the first boy to cross the chalkline into a life of brutality and terrorism. This is the story of Rafiq's transformation from child to boy soldier, as he is indoctrinated into the cause of fanatical belief. But his family have not forgotten him; when he can no longer recognize himself, they remember the boy he was, and reach out a hand of redemption as he spirals towards a final act of atrocity.