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Refugee
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2017
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Summary
JOSEF is a Jewish boy living in 1930s Nazi Germany. With the threat of concentration camps looming, he and his family board a ship bound for the other side of the world . . .ISABEL is a Cuban girl in 1994. With riots and unrest plaguing her country, she and her family set out on a raft, hoping to find safety in America . . .MAHMOUD is a Syrian boy in 2015. With his homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he and his family begin a long trek toward Europe . . .All three kids go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. All will face unimaginable dangers -- from drownings to bombings to betrayals. But there is always the hope of tomorrow. And although Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are separated by continents and decades, shocking connections will tie their stories together in the end.This action-packed novel tackles topics both timely and timeless: courage, survival, and the quest for home.
Trade Reviews
School Library Journal Review
Gr 3-7-The term "refugee" is constantly in the news. In direct response, Gratz gets personal with desensitizing statistics, policies, and politics by giving names, families, and histories to three tweens fleeing three countries during three time periods. Each fits the "refugee" label but is so much more than that single word. These faraway strangers immediately become children who deserve urgent attention. Josef (voiced by Michael Goldstrom) escapes Nazi Germany on the eve of World War II aboard the ill-fated St. Louis; Isabel (Kyla Garcia) leaves the unrest and deprivation of Cuba's Special Period during the 1990s; and Mahmood (Assaf Cohen) flees the bombs in 2015 that continue to destroy Syria. Despite the distance in backgrounds and in decades, the three stories will converge-naturally, yet magically-by book's end. For further edification, Gratz's detailed author's note contextualizes his fiction with truth. VERDICT With its superb tri-part narration, the audio version provides an ideal (even mandatory) opportunity for libraries to share these resonating tales with readers reluctant to pick up the page.-Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
After the horror of Kristallnacht, Josef's family knows it's time to leave Germany. In 1994, Isabel hunts for gasoline for the homemade boat that will help her family and neighbors flee Cuba. In 2015, Mahmoud's family is shell-shocked from the long war in Syria, hoping a perilous trek out of Aleppo can bring them to a more peaceful land. Gratz's triptych of alternating refugee stories delivers a gut-wrenching look at the terror of escaping a homeland that offers only repression or death. The young narrators are strongly rendered players in their own family dramas. Josef details the betrayal of Jewish refugees on board the St. Louis, denied asylum by Cuba in 1939. Isabel recounts the shark attack on her flimsy boat in open waters. Mahmoud knows he will never forget that feeling of paralyzing terror, of powerlessness in the face of death and humiliation as he bravely soldiers on to Europe. Some readers may prefer to read each story sequentially rather than in separated chapters, but this is a haunting fictional treatment of historic events.--O'Malley, Anne Copyright 2017 Booklist
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