Rummanah Aasi
 The phenomenon of desperate refugees risking their lives to reach safety is not new. For hundreds of years, people have left behind family, friends, and all they know in hope of a better life. This book presents five true stories about young people who lived through the harrowing experience of setting sail in search of asylum: Ruth and her family board the St. Louis to escape Nazism; Phu sets out alone from war-torn Vietnam; José tries to reach the U.S. from Cuba; Najeeba flees Afghanistan and the Taliban; Mohamed, an orphan, runs from his village on the Ivory Coast. Aimed at middle grade students, Stormy Seas combines a contemporary collage-based design, sidebars, fact boxes, timeline and further reading to produce a book that is ideal for both reading and research. Readers will gain new insights into a situation that has constantly been making the headlines.

Review:  Story Seas is a slim book but its impact is strong, harrowing, heart wrenching, and ultimately hopeful. The book is composed of a packs a portrait of five adolescents from different parts of the world who escaped persecution, violence, and repressive regimes in search for a new homes. The timeline is between 1939 and 2006. In 1939 Ruth boards an ocean liner to escape the Nazis in Germany, but the ship is repeatedly turned away from many North and South American countries, including the United States. In the 1960s, José leaves with his family from Cuba, after the rise of Fidel Castro's power. In the 1970s during the aftermath of the Vietnam War, Phu leaves his family behind and flees Vietnam on a crowded boat, which was repeatedly attacked by pirates. About 2001 to 2006, Najeeba and her family flee the Taliban in Afghanistan, while Mohamed endures four horrendous years of being moved around by human traffickers before finally attaining freedom and stability in Italy.  
  Each of these first-person accounts bring immediacy, a personal touch, and urgency to their stories. It was nice to know that four of the former refugees are still alive and have shared their stories with the author. All of the stories have common themes of displacement, desperation, isolation, and persecution. This book will serve as a good introduction to the refugee crisis and readers will quickly realize that the refugee crisis is unfortunately not new. Sidebars provide historical context, and the asylum-seekers' first-person accounts bring immediacy and urgency to their stories. Some of the stories have updates about the individual. The collage-like artwork with magazine-style spreads contain maps, headlines, photos, and evocative images rendered in torn paper and thick ink scrawls is appealing to the eye and makes it an absorbing read. 

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: The author does not sugarcoat the dangers the refugees faced including death and pirate attacks. Recommended for Grades 4 and up.

If you like this book try: In Search of Safety: voices of Refugees by Susan Kuklin
1 Response
  1. I'm so glad you got a hold of a copy of this book, I think it's really good even though it doesn't hold back.

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