Hi All! It’s Becky. I have had Alan Gratz’s Refugee on my TBR shelf since it first came out almost two years ago. I finally got a chance to listen to the audio book. Here are my thoughts:
Author: Alan Gratz
Note: I listened to the audio book.
Summary: 1938: Josef is a Jewish boy dealing with his father being sent to Auschwitz. He lives in constant fear for himself and his family. When the German government allow Josef’s father out of the concentration camp if he promises to leave Germany their family boards a ship to Cuba in hopes of a new life.
1994: Isabel’s family has been toiling under Castro’s control for her whole life. Isabel’s father has upset the regime and is in danger of imprisonment or worse. Isabel, her parents, and their friends board a small raft with dreams of reaching Miami and a better life in the United States.
2015: Mahmoud’s family is just barely surviving in Syria. They know that to survive they need to leave their home and make their way to Germany. Can his family survive the dangerous journey over land and sea?
Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud’s are all refugees. Their families must do whatever it takes to survive to start a new life in a new country where they will be safe.
Review: I think my reaction to this book was greatly impacted by all the hype I have heard about it over the past two years. I’m not sure if anything would be able to live up to the glowing praises. Gratz did write a relevant and heart wrenching book that will teach young readers about the experiences of refugees. Yet, I didn’t really feel connected to any of the characters. Their stories felt brief and the constant moving between the stories felt abrupt. Also, the way all the stories tied together is a great example of why we need to have empathy for others however, as an adult reader, it felt a little too convenient. This book is perfect for middle school students and I strongly believe that it should be taught in classrooms however it didn’t live up to my expectations.
Final Rating: 3 out of 5
Want another opinion? Check out Sarah’s review here.