Children of Exile
For the past twelve years, adults called “Freds” have raised Rosi, her younger brother Bobo, and the other children of their town, saying it is too dangerous for them to stay with their parents, but now they are all being sent back. Since Rosi is the oldest, all the younger kids are looking to her with questions she doesn’t have the answers to. She’d always trusted the Freds completely, but now she’s not so sure.
And their home is nothing like she’d expected, like nothing the Freds had prepared them for. Will Rosi and the other kids be able to adjust to their new reality?
A Good Start to a New Series
Rosi is twelve-years-old and she and the other children of Fredtown were taken from an unsafe situation with their birth parents to be raised by Fred-moms and Fred-dads. The Freds don't tell the children that their parents are dead, but Rosi and the other twelve-year-old in the community, Edwy, have decided for a variety of reasons that they must be orphans. Rosi has embraced the tenets of Fredtown: a utopian town where the doctrines of peace and non-violence are not just preached, but also made a part of daily living.
As Margaret Peterson Haddix's CHILDREN OF EXILE opens, Edwy, Rosi, and the other kids of Fredtown have learned that not only are their birth parents alive, but that they are all being sent back to the parents they haven't seen since infancy.
Rosi's story--the first in a trilogy--goes from utopian to dystopian to science fiction as Rosi adjusts to her new realities through experiences and revelations, and as she attempts to help other children adjust to theirs. Haddix's writing is smooth and the language is simple, but powerful. The book is a great vehicle for teaching/learning about the negative outcomes of prejudice and bias and the value of peace and non-violence. Middle School readers will find characters with whom they can identify as they navigate the story, and the cliff hanger ending will leave them scrambling for the second book in the series, CHILDREN OF REFUGE. Adult readers may have a couple of eye-rolling moments (I'll refrain from detailing those to avoid spoilers), but those aren't enough to negate the good writing and pacing, and the author's excellent work in building tension throughout the book.
My thanks to the publisher and YA Books Central for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.