The Children of Exile

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
February 2018

The Children of Exile book cover

The Children of Exile By Margaret Peterson Haddix; Simon & Schuster
Books for Young Readers: New York, 2015; $17.99

Have you ever had a hard decision deciding between two books to read? I started in the bookstore holding two precious books. My mother’s eyes stared down at me expectantly, wanting me to just pick a book and leave. I looked this way and that and finally made the decision to pick the book, The Children of Exile. This book’s back cover really intrigued me. After reading it, my mind was filled with questions: Why were the children sent to Fredtown? What type of people were in Fredtown? And just like that, I became absorbed in this book by Margaret Peterson Haddix. It is an amazing book about staying strong and standing up for your differences.

In this book, the protagonist is a twelve-year-old girl named Rosi. Ever since she was born, her brother Bobo and she had been sent off to a faraway place called Fredtown. In Fredtown, there were no arguments and everything was resolved by talking it through. One day Rosi, her little brother Bobo, and all the other children of Fredtown were told that they were going to be sent back to their original homes where they would meet their birth mothers and fathers. Rosi has to take care of all the children and fight for what is right. In this action-packed story, nothing is unthinkable.

One of the important themes in this book to me is to speak up and do what is right. When Rosi comes back to her real home, she realizes the ways are different. Many things require a fight when they could be resolved calmly. For example, having lost their children for six years, the real parents want them back very badly. As soon as the plane from Fredtown lands, the parents bang on plane doors and windows making a loud racket. Rosi and the other children become even more scared. Rosi had imagined a calm line of parents waiting peacefully and welcoming their children with kindness and love. She had not expected this.

My favorite part in this book is in the middle. This is when Rosi’s real parents take Bobo and her to church. Then, when the preacher preaches, he talks about how their town had finally got all of its children back. He said that the Fred parents were evil and were thieves who stole their children. While saying this, Rosi was having a hard time keeping her mouth shut; she wanted to speak up and say how kind, loving, and caring the Fred parents were. Finally, when Rosi couldn’t contain herself, she spoke up. All of the parents stared at her as if she was crazy, but she kept going. Rosi is a very brave girl and fought for what is right. I absolutely loved her character in the book.

I connected this to my piano class. In piano there is something called sight-reading. Sight-reading is when you are given a piece of music, and you have to play it without mistakes. When I tried to sight-read one of the pieces, it seemed really hard for me. One day I looked at the front cover of the sight-reading book and saw it said for level 7. I remembered I was testing for level 4, but never brought up the fact that the book was level 7. My piano teacher realized soon enough that the book wasn’t the right level. Once I got the level 4 sight-reading book, it seemed much easier to me. After reading the book The Children of Exile, I think that if I had been brave and spoke up like Rosi, then the problem of my sight-reading book might have been resolved earlier.

I strongly recommend this book to science fiction lovers with a little bit of mystery mixed into it. This story is good for young adults. Both girls and boys will be cheering for Rosi along the way as she finds her freedom. I cannot imagine this story being written any better. Once you pick up the book The Children of Exile you will not be able to put it down so BEWARE!

Portia Li The Children of Exile

Portia Li, 11
Acton, MA

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