Refugee, Reviewed by Ivy Halpern, 13

Book Reviews  /   /  By Ivy Halpern
Stone Soup Magazine
March 2019

I read the book Refugee by Alan Gratz. Refugee is about three different kids in three different time periods, however, they all have one thing in common, their home isn’t safe anymore and they must leave it. Josef is a Jewish boy born in Germany, escaping the Nazis in the 30s. Isabel is living in Communist Cuba during the 90s, looking to escape the riots and her family is trying to get to America. And Mahmoud, a Syrian boy living in a country being destroyed by war is struggling to travel to safety with his family. Even though I read all three stories at the same time, they took place in different eras, and the author does an extremely good job of connecting the stories (read it to find out how) and this connection is purposeful: the author is letting the reader know that these stories exist in every generation.

While reading this book, I became connected to the characters. Since Josef is Jewish I can picture him as a member of my own family during that era. I can also connect to Mahmoud because he is living in modern times, in a modern city like me but his city is being destroyed. Although I didn’t connect to Isabel’s story as much, I still found it very interesting. Shortly after reading this book I read about a swimmer on the Refugee Olympic Team. She had a story that was similar to Mahmoud’s. She had to swim for three hours in freezing cold water, and was able to save 20 people. This made the book very real to me.

Unlike the last book I read, I really enjoyed Refugee. It was truly a page turner. I think it’s really important for Ramaz students to read this book because we have been learning a lot about the Holocaust in history. The Holocaust was in the past but we need to remember that many people today need to escape the only place they know because it’s not safe due to gang violence, poor governance or more. After reading this book I feel so lucky to have been born in America where Jews and non-Jews have equal rights, where we have a democracy, and where I do not live in fear of imminent violence.

Refugee by Alan Gratz. Scholastic Press, 2017. Buy the book here and support Stone Soup in the process!

Have you read this book? Or do you plan on reading it? Let us know in the comments below!

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