Author – Alan Gratz
Age – 11+
Three children. Three different times in history. They are all fleeing their countries, looking for freedom, safety and a new life.
There is Joseph, his little sister Ruthie and his parents, leaving Germany on a ship called the St Louis in 1939 before WWII. They are Jewish and Joseph’s father has already spent time in Dachau Concentration Camp, and been ordered to leave Germany with his family and never return. They have high hopes of a new life in Cuba, after applying and paying for papers to allow them to settle there.
But when they reach Cuba, there is a problem. They are not allowed to enter the country. Will they be sent back to Germany?
There is Isabel, her father, grandfather, pregnant mother and her neighbours – all dreaming of leaving Cuba in 1994. But Fidel Castro has always forbidden anyone trying to escape his country. Until now… The neighbours have secretly been building a boat. Now is their chance! They risk their lives out on the open ocean, heading for the US. They face storms, sharks, and giant ships in the shipping lanes. Will they ever get to Miami?
It is 2015, and Mahmoud’s beloved city of Aleppo in Syria has been bombed again and again, the civil war tipping their lives upside down. When they finally decide to leave, to head for Germany, he and his family have no idea what they will face along the way. Smugglers, gunman, thieves, soldiers, camps, hunger and exhaustion. Will they ever be free?
All three stories are cleverly connected at the end of the novel, by the characters themselves and what they faced on their flights for freedom. Topical. This is an important and fantastic read.
(Sea crossing, Ocean crossing, War, Historical, Syria, Cuba, Germany, Refugee, Asylum, Racism, Hate, Courage, Mental Illness)