Monday, July 10, 2017

Refugee by Alan Gratz - ESSENTIAL

Gratz, Alan Refugee, 317 pages.  Scholastic, 2017.  $17.  Language: PG (5 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG-13 (graphic torture description, shark attack).

Germany, Cuba, Syria – from 1938 to 2015, three children’s lives are in danger because of grasping, power-hungry, controllers.  In 1938, Josef’s father was imprisoned in Dachau, but released and the family of four has found a berth on the ship St. Louis, which is supposed to take them to a new life.  In 1994, Isabel’s father has incited the wrath of Fidel Castro’s government, but the family of four (soon to be five) has joined their neighbors on a homemade raft and will undertake the desperate voyage to America.  In 2015, Mahmoud’s life is turned upside down when their apartment is bombed.  Now their father is taking the family of five on a desperate journey, by any means necessary to Germany in hopes of a new, safe, homeland. 

As I reached the final pages I was openly sobbing.  Gratz not only paints a vivid picture of each frantic journey, he also manages to bring the stories together in subtle and also powerful ways.  Even though the Syria crisis is in the news and on TV, Gratz brings an even more intimate touch to this plight.  I dare to you keep your eyes dry as you read.

MS, HS – ESSENTIAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher

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