Katie Reads: Refugee by Alan Gratz

Refugee Alan Gratz

Three different kids.

One mission in common: ESCAPE.

Josef is a Jewish boy 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 and freedom 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 young people will go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. All will face unimaginable dangers–from drownings to bombings to betrayals. But for each of them, there is always the hope of tomorrow. And although Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are separated by continents and decades, surprising connections will tie their stories together in the end.

Wow was this book intense. I assumed Alan Gratz’s Refugee would be, but wow! When I saw this book on display at the school book fair I knew I had to read it. In my class, I have several students who are “official” refugees – one escaped the Congo and spent a year in a refugee camp in Sudan. However, I also have many students are unofficial refugees, who escaped violence in their home countries by fleeing to the US.

Refugee is told in three alternating stories about three different refugees in different time periods. Normally I am not a fan of alternating stories, but this book handled it really well and I loved seeing the parallels between the stories. The chapters were all short and ended with cliff hangers – perfect for a student who is a reluctant reader. Or perfect for getting an “adult woman” to stay up way past her bedtime because she can’t put the book down. We’re starting book clubs in my class soon and this was one of the book options I gave my students. Unsurprisingly, it was a popular choice. I’m excited to see what my students think of it.

Refugee by Alan Gratz was a powerful, addictive read on an important topic, and I highly recommend it.

Katie and Cat