Book - 2017
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Although separated by continents and decades, Josef, a Jewish boy living 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: 9780545880831
Characteristics: 338 pages : maps ; 22 cm


From Library Staff

To be discussed April 21. Please note that this is the 3rd Tuesday of the month for this one meeting.

Recommended by Theresa, Youth Services

Read and recommended by Charlie.

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
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.

Feb 21, 2020

A very adventurous novel about escaping peril to find freedom

Feb 18, 2020

I absolutely loved this book! It was so attaching, touching, and made me understand the difficulties of life during the wars. I guarantee that you will love this book, and that you will fall Isabel, Mahmoud, and Josef's world. I highly recommend this book to anyone, both kids and adults. Alan Gratz strikes again!

Jan 07, 2020

This is a very good book. I’d recommend it for people who love adventure. It’s good for both kids and adults.

Nov 27, 2019

Love it!

Nov 15, 2019

This book is so good, once you opened it, you can't stop reading it.
Highly recommend!!!!!
When it got to the excited part, it jumps to the next story. It makes you want to read faster/keep on reading to know what happened next. But meanwhile, the chapter is very exciting too and it goes on and on like a cycle until you finished the book.
You still think about it after you finished the book and it stays in your brain forever.
Also, I know more about refugees and when I read the book, I feel like I'm a refugee and I experience what Isabel, Josef and Mahmoud gone though.

Nov 01, 2019

Level Y

SJPL_Outdoors Oct 12, 2019

Highly recommend this title! It tells the story of three children and their families’ harrowing escapes from their repressive homelands toward their dreams of freedom. Although set in three different time periods, the shared fears and hopes of each immigrant are so vividly and emotionally told, I couldn’t put the book down.

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Sep 16, 2019

This is a great "windows" book for middle graders to read about refugee experiences. Exciting enough to keep them engaged...and very clear about how hard it is to be a refugee.

Aug 25, 2019

Awesome book!!!! Love this author.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability
Jan 07, 2020

BroadviewBEAS thinks this title is suitable for 8 years and over

Nov 25, 2019

LivingIn3000 thinks this title is suitable for 9 years and over

Oct 30, 2019

pine7162 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 11 and 15

Jun 09, 2019

Eil_1 thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

Jan 30, 2019

IHATEULOL thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 9 and 22

Nov 24, 2018

Firdose thinks this title is suitable for 9 years and over

Feb 09, 2018

booknrrd thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at WCLS

To Top