This refugee journey takes place in three different time periods. Each chapter alternates through the stories of average children. First up is Josef, a German Jew whose family evades the Nazis by booking passage on a ship to Cuba.  Next is Isabel who lives in Cuba in 1994. Her family is struggling with the lack of food and the unrest in the country until her father is about to be arrested and they leave by boat headed to the U.S. Finally, in 2015, Mahmoud and his family escape Allepo. They head to Austria after their apartment building blows up.

I’m a continuity freak and almost read each story from beginning to end, but after finishing the entire book, I ended up liking the alternating format. I think it helps bring the similarities and differences to a head. 

I read several other reviews that mention the violence and am puzzled by that. Of course, it is violent. That’s always been the reality of being forced away from your home and enduring the horrors of war. IMO this book should be required reading for all middle grade/high school classes. Part of the problem with our country today is that too many of us don’t have empathy for situations that we have not been in ourselves. All through history and in present day millions of children have been forced to be refugees. That’s a fact, and those kids had no choice but to experience it, we owe it to them to educate our children the best we can so that as adults they do their best not to repeat history.



I read this as an ARC through the Book Posse, a group of book reading educators on Twitter, although I am purchasing a copy too.

Refugee By Alan Gratz

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