by Alan Gratz

Published: July 25, 2017

Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.

Genre: Realistic Fiction (suggested ages 9-12)

Pages: 352

Synopsis:  JOSEF is a Jewish boy living 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 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 kids go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. All will face unimaginable dangers — from drownings to bombings to betrayals. But there is always the hope of tomorrow. And although Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are separated by continents and decades, shocking connections will tie their stories together in the end.


Refugee was my favorite book this past school year. Our teacher read it to the class out loud. Everyone looked forward to reading it each day. I think because the characters were kids, it was easy for us to get into to their stories.

The theme of the book is about survival. Each character was trying to find a place where they would be safe. Kids want to feel safe where they live, and the three characters in the book were not safe in their homes.

The author’s purpose is to inform you about what it was like during the times each of the three kids were living. It’s hard to know what people in other places are going through. This book opens a door through time and place to let the reader experience what they went through.

My opinion of the book is that it’s a great book overall. It can get confusing if you aren’t focused on the book. The three perspectives of each story are very similar but different in many ways. You have to keep up with who you are following and what time frame of the story line you are in.

There are some parts of Refugee that are a little intense and frightening, mostly because the book is based on things that really happened to people in history. The best parts of the book are where you see people helping each other. It is inspiring to know that there are others who are willing to help you, even if they can’t understand you.


I think Refugee is a must read. The book is informing and so suspenseful that you don’t want to put it down. It has taught me to be aware of what others might be going through. I want to be like the characters in the book who help people–even if I don’t know or understand exactly what they are running from.

Reviewer: Camryn (7th grade, 2019-2020)

What I’m reading now:

Restart, by: Gordon Korman

Projekt 1065, by: Alan Gratz

Also check out: 10 Things To Do With Your Tween/Teen This Summer!