Book - 2017
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Although separated by continents and decades, Josef, a Jewish boy livng in 1930s Nazi Germany; Isabel, a Cuban girl trying to escape the riots and unrest plaguing her country in 1994; and Mahmoud, a Syrian boy in 2015 whose homeland is torn apart by violence and destruction, embark on harrowing journeys in search of refuge, discovering shocking connections that tie their stories together.
Publisher: New York : Scholastic Press, 2017.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781338324723
Characteristics: 338 pages ;,22 cm.


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May 07, 2021

This is an excellent book for comparing and contrasting refugee experiences from three very different points of view in three different time periods: a German Jewish child in WWII, a boy from Syria, and a girl on a boat from Cuba.

Apr 15, 2021

This book is entertaining as well as educational. Three children from different time periods and different areas of the world all become refugees after a horrific event in their home country. Mahmoud is fleeing Syria in 2014, from the civil war that is still going on. Him, his brother Waleed, his mother, and is sister Hana, must leave Syria after a bomb hits their apartment complex, destroying the front wall. They plan to make it all they way to Germany, but have to go through several countries, (and a sea) to get there. Mahmoud's story was my personal favorite, as it seemed to have the most thought and energy put into it. Isabel is a Cuban girl in 1994, fleeing due to a mass starvation following the fall of the Soviet Union. Isabel, her pregnant mother, father, and her best friends family (The Castíllos) flee on a homemade boat and encounter many problems and tragedies along the way. This particular story had the least entertainment value for me, because even though it was based on a true story, I feel that the fact that this whole tale took place only on the open ocean was a little bit bland and repetitive. Unlike Mahmoud's, which took place in many different countries. Josef is a boy from Germany in 1939, who's family house is invaded by Nazis on Kristallnacht. Josef's father is taken to the concentration camp Dachau and was miraculously released six months later. They agree to meet at the docking station for the M.S. St. Louis, a ship set to take them to Cuba, where they can eventually get to the U.S. This story was not my favorite, but was still good, as it didn't have as little entertainment value as Isabel's. There is a twist at the end of Josef's story which I'm still making my mind up about how I liked it, which totally changes the whole story. Overall, this book is a must read for anyone interested in any of these three time periods or places, or just history in general. This book has a really cool author's note, which mentions who all of the characters were inspired by. Alan Gratz is also a great author, with other amazing titles such as Projekt-1065. Refugee is an absolutely amazing book that needs to be read by anyone who likes to read. 11/10 in my book without a doubt.

Apr 03, 2021

Review: This book is hands down one of Alan Gratz's most meaningful to date. Gratz is very well known for his historical novels and this book definitely shows why. Basically, Gratz tells three deep, meaningful stories about three different children whose stories, without them knowing it, are very similar and spread the same message. Overall, I believe this book was very unique because it remarkably connects all of the kids' stories at the end. This book always kept me locked into my seat as I flipped each page with heavy excitement. Without a doubt, I would give this book 5/5 stars.

Feb 20, 2021

Beautifully written. Amazing, leaving a stain in your heart. This guy knows how to write! You wanna read it, go ahead, I'll reccomend it!

Sep 02, 2020

Refugee by Alan Gratz is about three heartbreaking true stories that happened throughout history and how people overcame these horrible situations. Every word that Alan wrote made me feel exactly what the characters were feeling, if it was the joy and excitement of a party or the empty sadness of losing someone you love. Alan Gratz has made many other books on other tragic events throughout history and not only are they good reads, but they are also educational on the history of our world from things like world wars to civil wars and everything in between. I give this book 5 stars and would definitely recommend it to someone that is interested in history and also into novels that showcase very courageous souls. @Gasenic of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

I think Refugee is a great book. It educated me and I became more aware about what is going on in my world, in other countries, and how we all affect each other. The author does an amazing job cycling through Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud, nobody outshines the other. All of their stories have different types of nail-biting twists and turns. In my opinion, the book was the perfect amount of realistic. This book isn't a biography, it doesn't follow a real person's life, but it does a fantastic job making the characters and storyline seem real. Every character had likes, dislikes, inner struggles, and a realistic personality. The story stayed true to the real world, not everything was sunshine and rainbows. There were definitely some dark moments in this story. This book is very historically accurate and well written. I don't usually reach for history based books, but I'm really glad I read Refugee. I would give this book ⅘ stars. ☆☆☆☆
@Yumeko of the Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

SAPL_Teens Aug 25, 2020

A story of 3 young people in 3 different time periods who are all fleeing their home countries and become refugees. There is the story of a Syrian family trying to get to Germany in the current time. There is a story of a Cuban family fleeing to the United States in the 1970s. And a Jewish family in the 1940’s from Germany, trying to get anywhere safe.
I liked how the stories were likely true to life, but not too harsh or too sad. I liked how the people experienced real life challenges during their escapes. I liked how the refugees explained why they felt they had to flee their home countries. And I really liked how the stories were connected to each other. While this book is enjoyable because of its gentle exploration of refugee experiences it does border on the side of oversimplification of their experiences. Overall, I liked this book and would give it a rating of 4/5. I found I was anxious to continue hearing the stories and the about the main characters adventures. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys history, true life stories, real adventures and anyone who likes to find out more information on current news stories. - 4/5 stars. SAPL Read it & Review Contributor

Aug 04, 2020

“If no one saw them, no one could help them. And maybe the world needed to see what was really happening here.”- Alan Gratz (Mahmoud-Refugee).

Refugee by Alan Gratz briefly describes 3 different world-historical events that ever happened in the modern period with 3 different settings. The characters are three kids: Josef, a Jewish boy in Berlin 1938, Isabel in Cuba 1994, Mahmoud in Syria 2015. Yet there’s an invisible bridge linking them together in one random moment. The first reason I love this book is that it triggered me into believing destiny, something miraculous, and rarely occurring events. From the perspective of middle schoolers, Alan Gratz emphasizes their desperation, making every effort they could in order to survive. Their sorrow as they have to make significant decisions with the bitterness of mistreatment and fear of every wrong step’s able to get them executed.
I read this when I was in 7th grade, and it totally changed my mind about my assumption “There are no educational books in the world that are interesting.”Before reading Refugee, educational books rarely could get me going on and on. Refugee also encourage the younger generation to develop empathy among others, including refugees. This is a very interesting book because of plot twists when moments of connection appear, every character with their deep feeling brings heart and mind touch feeling to readers. Keep in mind that although this is a fiction book, take the information here as awareness and education since the setting is based on historical events. The worst part of my experience reading this book is, of course, taking a lot of notes even if I don’t want to stop because according to my teacher, ‘Every word the author included here’s for a reason”. In addition, I don't really have a soft spot for some plots to be over-dramatic. Overall, there’s no censored language here, easy to understand since it’s for teens with clear information.

Aug 01, 2020

A very good book but not the best. There were a lot of cliffhangers at the end of each chapter that made you want to read more. But, the only problem was that the situations seemed a bit to exaggerated and unrealistic. There are more pros and cons, but those are the ones that actually would help you. So I still recommend the book, but just know it isn’t the best from Alan Gratz

Jul 18, 2020

Refugee is an amazing story.It is the type of story that makes you both excited and curious. This book shows the struggles that the kids had to face and how they faced them.The author of this book did a great job describing their thoughts and emotions, it made you feel as if everything was happening around you and as if you were there also dealing with his/her struggles.
I loved this book 📚

Jul 09, 2020

It might’ve been the fact that I school forced me to read this for a project, but I just couldn’t stand Refugee. I thought it wouldn’t be terrible because all the reviews on this book are glowing. But no, that was not the case. I prefer fantasy books and tend to read those, so trying out a new genre was vastly different for me. While I don’t have a problem with the genre itself, I have a massive problem with the book.

I don’t mind the author switching the point of view. But I think the book could have been better if the author had kept all of one character's chapters in one area, then switch to the next point of view once the first character’s story was over. One chapter would end on a cliffhanger and then you have to wait for two chapters to return to that story. It’s miserable to read and because there are two chapters you have to read through and the story constantly keeps changing. It’s truly irritating and hard to follow. Normally, when an author switches the point of view, it happens in chronological order. It will resume the same story but from another perspective. But here, the switching of perspectives is thoroughly annoying.

Another massive problem I have is that nothing in the story gets you invested. For example, something terrible happens to a character, but you don’t feel anything because it’s not the main character in that chapter. You just say, “Oh. Well that happened,” and then move on. This is also due to the switching of perspectives. You never get a chance to get invested in one character's story because it's constantly changing every chapter. And that’s the main problem of the book. Had I not been forced to read this, I would have dropped it almost immediately. So because I was disinterested in the book, it just felt like I was skimming chapters. I could feel myself not being invested at all in what was happening in the story.

I genuinely don’t think the book is well written either. At the end of the story, the author tries something that could’ve been brilliant, but I predicted it halfway through the book. Ordinarily, I give books a pass if it’s predictable because I’ve read so many books, and books may use tropes because there may not be many ideas on how to do a twist. But Refugee’s ending was just so unsatisfying to come together, and again this comes from the constant switching of POVs and terrible storytelling. I absolutely did not enjoy this book at all. I would never recommend this book to anyone and heavily try to warn them it’s a terrible book. If you’re like me, and see all these glowing reviews and couldn’t find negative comments, please read this and consider it. Some people may like this book, but to me I was bored the entire time, not invested, and was unsatisfied with its ending. I believe if some things were altered, my opinion on this book would be better. But because of how it is composed, I could not stand this book.

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Feb 07, 2021

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