Sarah’s Key

De Rosnay T. (2007). Sarah’s Key. NY: St. Martins Press.

This story takes place in France, Connecticut, New York, and a bit in Italy, switching from contemporary times (2002 – 2005) to World War II. One of the major themes revolves 556602around love, notably the deep love between Sarah and her brother, who are separated.

The story starts in Paris in 1942 when people who were Jewish were being arrested in the middle of the night. Sarah needs to make sure her brother does not get caught so she makes an agonizing but necessary decision to hide him in their secret hiding spot, not knowing that it would be a while until she returns. On the flip side of the story in 2002, Julia is married and has lived in Paris for twenty-two years as a journalist. Currently, she is writing a story about Jewish families during War World II and she discovers a huge secret her father-in-law and his family have harboured, after which she is driven to find Sarah. Continue reading

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Refugee

Gratz, A. (2017). Refugee. NY: Scholastic Press.

Following three children from different places and different time periods in history, Refugee is a gripping and suspenseful story that takes the brave spirit of these seemingly33118312.jpg unrelated children and swirls them around in the ocean as they all flee their homelands by boat, then follows them as they struggle to survive, fight to belong, and grapple with issues such as invisibility.

Everything is connected. Josef is escaping a budding Nazi Germany, Isabel flees Castro’s Cuba in the 1990’s, and Mahmoud is running from Syria in present day, yet their journeys tie together in the end. An incredibly timely middle school read,  may readers question if we have learned from history or if today’s refugees be treated in the same appalling manner.

Historically accurate, thrilling, and heartbreaking, Refugee will bring you another perspective.

A Time of Miracles

Bondoux, A. (2010). A Time of Miracles. New York: Delacorte Books for Young Readers.7932010

Koumaïl’s story begins with the Terrible Accident. Gloria is picking peaches in the Republic of Georgia when she hears a screeching noise, looks up to see an explosion, and runs to discover a trainwreck. She unearths a French woman who is about to die, holding a baby to her chest, begging Gloria to care for him. That baby is Blaise Fortune, and Gloria takes him and calls him Koumaïl.  Koumaïl loves Gloria, who is a giving, no-nonsense, strong woman. He often asks her to tell his story, and she does – “always in the right order” as she says. It’s actually these stories which end up helping him survive and which demonstrate that hope is fundamental.

They are desperately poor and life gets much more difficult and complex five years later when the Soviet Union collapses and Gloria decides she and Koumaïl, or Monsieur Blaise as she sometimes affectionately refers to him, must flee as refugees from the civil unrest, determinedly making their way westward toward France. This begins a five year journey on foot across the Caucasus (between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea) and Europe where they meet many unforgettable people and have many dangerous experiences. But there is a secret about Blaise’s past. The story he slowly learns about the truth of his family is entangled in the violence during the civil unrest, and revolves around Gloria’s love. She has been a good mother to him all these years, sacrificing and finding extraordinary means to give him the best she can. Continue reading