Refugee – Book Club

by Alan Gratz
Release Date:  July 25, 2017
Publisher: Scholastic
Number of Pages:  352
Kindle edition
Source: MCL
Historical Fiction/YA Middle Grade
Rating:  PG
Read 8/20/19 to 8/27/19


Three different kids.
One mission in common: ESCAPE.

Josef is a Jewish boy 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 and freedom 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 young people will go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. All will face unimaginable dangers–from drownings to bombings to betrayals. But for each of them, there is always the hope of tomorrow. And although Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are separated by continents and decades, surprising connections will tie their stories together in the end.

This story is told in alternating chapters between three different kids with three different backgrounds from three different points in time, and somehow it couldn’t be more current.  When it was written a couple years ago it was timely, but here in America this lesson is even more important in today’s political climate.

Okay, I hope that first paragraph didn’t scare you away.  This is a wonderful story with many ups and downs. It’s not a dry political read or preachy like you may have started thinking from my first few sentences. Although the first 25% is very interesting and needed for set-up, it doesn’t really take off until after that point.  So keep on reading.

While this story is a middle grade story, I have some notes that go along with that.  For the adult reader, you will very quickly forget its original audience was meant to be that age group.  For the parents of middle grade kids, please read this story before your child does so you are ready to answer any questions they may have.  While written for middle grade, this is a very heavy subject matter.

Don’t be fooled the few times in the first half of the book where you are able to stop yourself from crying.  You will not get through this one without tears in the end.  Tears of woe, but also tears of hope.  One thing I hope everyone takes away from this story is this line from Isabella’s grandfather, “…a funny thing happened while I was waiting for the world to change, Chabela: It didn’t. Because I didn’t change it.”

5 stars

Usually at this point I’ll give you some of the feedback and discussion my book club has about our pick.  Unfortunately, I ended up with a scheduling conflict and was unable to make it to our meeting.  In fact, only half of our book club made it this month.  End of summer/beginning of school…things get hectic.  I do know everyone really enjoyed the book, though.

I’m supposed to host next, but my mom is going to instead.  With my grandbaby on the way and me getting ready to go out of state to help out with that, I can’t guarantee I’ll be a very good host.  So I’m being skipped for now and will slide back in when I return from Washington.

We’ll be meeting on Sunday, October 6 (fingers crossed I’ll be able to make it this time!) and we’re reading A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum. I’d love to hear from you if you’ve read this book before of if you’re reading along with us.


**Update: 10/16/19

We canceled book club because everyone had things happening in life.  Now, with half of us out of town before the holidays, and then the holidays, we’re pushing it until January.  We’ll be adding another book and do a double book club.  I’ll do a quick post with dates and the other title soon.

About Cheri

I'm the mom of two boys and wife to my high school sweetheart. Our oldest, Josh, is living at home while working and paying off student loans. Our youngest, Griffin recently left his active duty Army job and is now National Guard here at home. He moved back to Michigan with his wife Kirsten and our beautiful granddaughter Hazel. I work part time and try to fit as much reading into my life as possible.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s