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. This action-packed novel tackles topics both timely and timeless: courage, survival, and the quest for home.
Refugee is the story of three very different kids experiencing the hatred and fear that is a real part of our history and current times. It is told in three perspectives, from three very different time periods, but they are tied together so beautifully it is clear that this is and can be anyone's story no matter what time period. Gratz alternates chapters between the three families. Chapters are short, and many end with a cliffhanger that help keep any reader hooked. Moving back and forth from one refugee's story does not distract the flow of the stories but helps strengthen the storytelling by showing parallels between these children's lives.
Most importantly, I love how Gratz is able to hit all the emotional points in each of the children's narratives. As a reader, you feel a personal connection to each child and at many times I found myself crying a little in public. It is a touching story that helps remind us that although we may come from different parts of the world in the end we all just want to be safe with our loved ones.
This is one of the must reads of 2017 and it one I highly recommend to any reader from middle school to adulthood. This is one you won't be able to put down.