Monday, November 30, 2020


Hughes, Dean. Displaced
September 8th 2020 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Library copy

Hadi and his family escaped from Syria after their home was bombed out, and made their way to Beirut. The Lebanese aren't thrilled with the immigrant influx, and it's hard for Hadi's father to get a job. He and his son both work on the streets, selling things to people at traffic stop lights. This earns them barely enough to make rent on the one room that all of them occupy. Hadi's mother stays home with his brothers and sisters, but has recently had a badly infected tooth. The neighborhood is not a good one, so the children are cooped up most of the day. When Hadi is selling gum, and new boy, Malek, comes to sell tissues on his corner! He has been sent by Kamal, who seems to be in charge of the boys on the street. This is a crushing blow to Hadi, who with his father spends 4,000 hard earned lira a day just to get the bus back and forth to this better business area. The boys decide that they can work together, and slowly become friends. As the mother's tooth pains her more, Rashid, a local taxi driver, approaches Hadi with a proposition: he can make a lot of money passing packages on to customers. Hadi knows this is probably drug related, but is desperate for money, which does help his family. When Rashid becomes more and more demanding, threatening to implicate Hadi in the drug business, and Kamal starts cracking down on people in "his" area, Hadi is worried. When he is injured, he is told he and his family need to leave Beirut altogether, or he might be killed. Luckily, there are a few good people in Hadi's life who are able to help.
Strengths: Hughes and his wife lived in Lebanon a few years ago, and he interviewed a boy very like Hadi, and was involved in some humanitarian projects, teaching English to people in Beirut. He is able to bring details from that experience to this book and put a face of the problems that Syrian refugees are facing. Hadi is hardworking, but still 13 years old, and the difficulties he faces are well described. I especially like a scene where he wants to know more about a book, and the woman in the book store is initially unkind because he is Syrian. When she sees that he does want to learn to read, she trades him a well worn book for a pack of gum that he is selling. Even people who have prejudiced opinions can have kind moments. I can't wait to hand this to my readers who think that school is a waste of their time!
Weaknesses: This ended a bit neatly, which is a relief, but perhaps not too realistic. 
What I really think: I love Hughes' World War II books so much, so was willing to take a chance on this one. I was not disappointed. Until we get more Syrian refugees writing books about their experiences, I'm glad to have well researched accounts like this to help my students understand the plight of immigrants around the world. 
 Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. Another book that sounds like a worth while read. Thanks for the recommendation.