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Publisher's Summary

A tour de force from acclaimed author Alan Gratz (Prisoner B-3087), this timely and powerful novel tells the story of three different children seeking refuge.

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.

Alan Gratz (Prisoner B-3087, Projekt 1065) delivers an action-packed novel that tackles topics both timely and timeless: courage, survival, and the quest for home.

©2017 Alan Gratz (P)2017 Scholastic Inc.

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A Kids'-Eye View of Fleeing Home

This heart-wrencher of a tale chronicles three separate journeys of children experiencing what none should have to: fleeing a home that is no longer safe. We meet Josef, a Jewish boy leaving Germany in 1939 as he boards the ill-fated ocean liner St. Louis; Isabelle, who, along with her family, flees Cuba as a 1994 rafter; and Mahmoud, who departs Aleppo in 2015, bound for (bringing us full circle) Germany. The stories, unfolding in alternating points of view, are benchmarked at the start of each chapter with a subhead: xx days from home, demonstrating that from a kids' vantage point, home - or lack of - is the only landmark that really matters.

The three accounts really took me into the heart of these historical moments in a way that news reports rarely do, each depicting a unique version of desperation, tragedy, and longing. But while I was on the edge-of-my-seat throughout, the ultimate conclusion is one of hope - that the sins of our collective past do in fact have the power to positively impact the choices we make in the future.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Well written and timely

Gratz knows how to tackle tough topics, and has done so in previous books. In Refugee, he intertwines three children's stories that span across decades but all speak to the incredible challenges of surviving a refugee experience. A compelling story for middle school students as an independent read, and I plan to read it aloud to my fifth grade class. It is intense and there is violence and death, so it may require conversations with any upper el reader who is interested. Overall, I think this is Gratz's best work to date, and all three narrators were skilled in their deliveries of the three main characters' stories.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Intended for 5-8th graders, but it is good for adults too

Wonderfully read by three different actors, the individual stories of the plight of three refugee families in different decades is so compelling and actually really important--especially for children. The intensity of many of the horrific experiences of these people may be too much for some young people, but if they could deal with The Hunger Games, they would be ok with this. The historical accuracy was done well and the characters were compelling. The author packs in a great deal within a short book and it serves as an important statement about compassion in understanding the refugee experience.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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awesome And enlightening

wow everything was perfect. I will share with all I can. thank you for sharing

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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LOVE IT

Absolutely loved this book. Really pulled me in and felt what they were going through.

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the ending was a shocker and really good narrators

this was my first book here and I was pleasantly surprised one of the best

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Must read

This is an incredible book regardless, but having the audio with the different narrator voices makes is even more powerful!

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I cried

So good y'all. so good. so so g o o d. y' all. that good.

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Cuban Narrator

I really enjoyed the book overall but the Cuban Narrator kind of annoyed me a little bit with her voice Impersonation of Isabel's Grandfather. Other than that the story was good!

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One of the most important books

This was eye opening and one of the most important books I have ever read.