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Refugee by Alan Gratz

March 16, 2018

Josef is a Jewish boy living in the 1930s in Nazi Germany. With the fear of being sent to concentration camps, he and his family board a ship headed for the other side of the world. Isabel is a Cuban girl in 1994. With riots and chaos infecting her country, she and her family get on a raft hoping to find safety in America. Mahmoud is a Syrian boy in 2015. With the land being destroyed by violence, he and his family set out on a long journey toward Europe. All of these kids go on unimaginable journeys to find refuge. They have to face many dangers, but their courage will help them survive into tomorrow. Although the kids are separated by continents and decades, their stories all have an interesting way of coming together at the end of this novel: Refugee by Alan Gratz.

Even though this book contained three stories, Gratz told each effectively using a strong third person perspective and descriptive dialogue to make reader feel like they were there with the characters. Each character’s story would switch to another’s at the end of every chapter. Gratz made each chapter less than ten pages, so his audience wouldn’t forget what happened to any of the other characters in previous chapters. At the beginning of a chapter Gratz tells the character’s name, the place they are in, and how far away they are from their home. By doing this he made it easy to never lose track of where the characters are in the world.

What made the book the most interesting was how Gratz wrote the book so realistically— I felt like I was there with the characters. I could see their facial expressions, and I could feel their emotions. Everything he was describing in the book I could easily picture in my head. Gratz made it easy for me to understand what it was like to be a refugee in different times. He incorporated cliffhangers throughout, so I never wanted to put the book down.

What made this novel especially effective for me was how it changed my view on the refugee crisis across the world. I used to think refugees were like migrants, but Gratz showed me what it was like to be a refugee and how hard it is to be forced to leave your home and fight your way to another country to be safe. This book also revealed the problems some countries have and what effect those issues have on citizens. This story demonstrated how long refugees have been around and the struggles that they go through on their journeys.

Gratz hooked me throughout this historical fiction book: in three different times, with three different stories, from three different kids, with one goal in common— escape. I hope you will love Refugee and its story of courage and hope because this book has a rating way above 10.


Scholastic, 317 pages

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