Wednesday, July 26, 2017

#WNDB Wednesday- Refugee

33118312Gratz, Alan. Refugee.
July 25th 2017 by Scholastic
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Gratz tackles the idea of countries in turmoil by focusing on three children from three different time periods. Josef is a German Jew whose family is able to evade the Nazis after his father is arrested, and eventually book passage on a fairly nice ship bound for Cuba. They eventually run into complications, and the captain attempts to land them in the US and then the UK. Isabel lives in Cuba in 1994, and her family is struggling with the lack of food and the unrest in the country until the father feels that he will be arrested unless they leave. With the help of another family who has built a boat, they start on a perilous voyage to the US which is complicated by Isabel's mother's pregnancy. In 2015, Mahmoud's family can no longer stay in Aleppo, Syria after their apartment building is destroyed. They take off in their car, with a fair amount of resources, but it's a long journey to Austria, and nothing about the trip is easy. In all three cases, loved ones are lost, but eventually parts of the family arrive in safer places. There are some nice tie-ins at the end of the book, as well as additional information about the history of the conflicts that propel these families away from their homelands.
Strengths: This was rather grim, but certainly a book that students today need in order to understand what is going on in the world. Gratz always does excellent research, and he doesn't over dramatize events. I found it particularly illuminating that Mahmoud's family was so well-to-do and had made fairly good plans to get out of the country; I guess I have a typical tendency to think of refugees of people who are forced to leave very quickly with no resources at all, which must sometimes be the case. Their use of smart phones to map their routes was especially interesting, and the father's sense of humor added a very human element to the story. The three narratives change back and forth but are easy to follow.
Weaknesses: Again, a bit grim. Younger readers need to know that there are some deaths, a baby who is given away in order to be saved from drowning, and a lot of violence.
What I really think: This would make a great class read, since some of the historical topics as well as the issue of forced migration might need some explanation for students to fully understand them.
Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. This definitely sounds like an intense but valuable read. The cover led me to expect the book would be about one family; I like that three different situations are explored.