Powerful, Inspirational, AND a thriller to boot!


Refugee details the risky journeys of three people. Each of the children is from a different time and place, but they share the common goal of escaping the only place they call home. Josef is a Jewish boy living in Nazi Germany (1930s); Isabel lives in Cuba (1990s); and Mahmoud is living in war-torn Syria (2015). Shocking connections between the refugees are revealed at the conclusion, with revelations of how the stories surprisingly connect to one another.

Each of these characters and their families face hardships, both personal and cultural. Boats break down; some places resent refugees. Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud strive to make their way to their new homes. They will witness loss and darkness, but they also  learn new things about themselves: resilience, courage, perseverance, but most especially, hope and love.

BTSYA / Teen Reader (14):
This book is fantastic. It is so thrilling that it is hard to put down. The descriptions are so vivid, that I was directly transported to their surroundings. It was as if I were on their boats, and I was holding on along with them. It is very action-packed with adversaries appearing left and right, and the characters finding ways to steer around, or through, them. I felt somber when someone got captured, enraged at government mistreatment of refugees, and relieved when they found refuge.

Splitting the pages in some parts would usually be a bad omen for a book, but in Refugee, it works! The chapters always end with a cliffhanging moment, and every time I had to keep reading to find out what happened! Three main characters with their own stories usually do not fare well, either, but these characters have so many memorable, clear qualities that I kept track of them easily. My only complaint is that the connections felt a bit rushed. I thought they could have been fleshed out more, but this only affects the book in a minor way. 

The book is very important and insightful. I recommend it for readers 10 and older. I think everyone should read this to learn about hardships in other places in the world, such as living through war and letting go of a life you've always known. If I had to use stars, I would give it 4.5 of 5 stars.

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

Who says history isn't compelling? Not our teen reviewer. These may be fictional stories, but they are powerful, thrilling, and will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Content Awareness Factors:

The characters in the book endure dangerous and dire circumstances. Although it is neither graphic nor gory, the events may be unsettling to some readers.

Type of Book:
This is a fictional account of three refugees' journeys from their homeland to a new country.
Educational Themes:

The story parallels three children who lived in different decades and different places. Their journeys were different, but the motivation of their parents was the same: provide a better life for the family.

While readers may be familiar with the Nazis and Holocaust, they may not know about Cuba or Syria. Mahmoud's story is fairly contemporary, as it is set in 2015, not that long ago. Encourage readers to explore current events and learn more about what is happening in the world around them.

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
12 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
10 and Up
Age of child:
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer age: 14
Purchase Recommendation:
Borrow at least. This is a book that will grab your emotions. It is so thrilling that you may want to read it again to make sure you didn'miss any details.

Title Refugee
Author Alan Gratz
Publisher Scholastic Inc. © 2017
ISBN 9780545880831
Material Hard Cover
Cost $16.99
Genres Adventure, Social Issues
be the star you are Cybils
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