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Refugee Boy

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  663 ratings  ·  62 reviews
A novel for young adults about the complex issue of refugees.
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 2001 by Bloomsbury
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Community Reviews

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Sean Chou
Refugee Boy is the book that my class read for the first half-term. I got a chance to look at the story more closer than and slower than when I usually read. I had written few essays for this book so I am pretty comfortable with the story (although you can't expect much from a twelve year-old boy).
The story begins with Alem Kelo and his father visiting England on vacation. However Alem's father soon leaves him to fend for his own as he travels back to his countries Ethiopia and Eritrea to try...more
Chey
fantastic sory of a refugees and the hardships and trial they must endure ,but Alems own story is heartbreaking ,yet he is able to always look ahead and challenge himself even in his darkest moments. I encourage others to read this story to understand why some people are refugges and understand what that really means. Also to look into themselves to appreciate all that is one has especially an education.
Theo
I really liked this book. It was very moving in many ways. I liked the plot and how the characters moved around in it. I liked the love that the characters had for alem. It was sad but VERY well written. is it fictional???
Anureet
I read this book in my English class in Year 8 and I totally loved reading it! It was so interesting and I couldn't put it down..Totally recommend this to anyone..
Aurel
this book related to by personal experiences as a refugee when i arrived in britain in year 2000
Sally
Absolutely incredible story - I was stunned to find out at the end that it was fictional! I honestly thought this was a true story. Man.

I read an 'uncorrected proof' because that just happened to be the copy I found (in a secondhand bookstore). So I don't know if things were changed or what, but I LOVED the start - how in the first chapter they are in Ethiopia, and Alem's father is being called a traitor because his wife is Eritrean... then the second chapter is almost word for word exactly the...more
Jack
The Title Of the book I just Finished reading is called Refugee Boy. Writtin By Benjamin Zephaniah, After a war Breaks out between Eritrea and Ethiopia, A young Boy is tricked, Into going to London for a son and father Trip.The Boy is abandonded by his father the first night they arrive, Alem, the boy is then forced to live for himeself for a while and become a London Refugee Boy.

There are several parts in the book that were good, but the one I found the best would be when Alem meet his father o...more
Nell
To read this book, I think you have to understand and have a good knowledge about Asylum Seekers, and what sort of benefits they are allowed to have to understand this book. It is surprisingly a really interesting read, and I read in a day. Alem, has basically become a Refugee Boy as his father leaves him in England, whilst his father and mother live in Eritrea. Because Alem is both Eritrean and Ethiopian, his home is not a safe place for him to live, as both countries are at war with each other...more
Aikae Laumape
Refugee Boy written by Benjamin Zephaniah is a conflicting and compelling novel about a young boy by the name of Alem Kelo who is caught in between two countries at war. I decided to read this book because it was recommended by my little cousin and i thought i should give it a chance, so obviously that would mean that on the Bingo bored it would fall under the category of recommended by a family member .Not thinking much of the book at first after reading 13 pages I was hooked and after quickly...more
Jesse
This was an interesting, quick read. After the first few pages, it was evident that this is a book targeted toward youth. It's about a boy whose dad is Ethiopian and mother is Eritrean, during the war of Eritrean secession. The parents are persecuted on both sides of the border and fear for their life, so the boy's dad brings him to England and leaves him there as a refugee. It does give a few good bits about Ethiopian culture and some background on the war. But for the most part, it's about how...more
Michalyn
Alem Kelo is caught between two worlds. His mother is Eritrean, his father is Ethiopian and the two countries are at war. For Alem, who is neither one nationality nor the other, life is difficult. To escape the constant persecution they face, Alem and his father seek refuge in Britain but getting to Britain is only the beginning of the story.

This book was quite touching. Alem is such a wonderful protagonist: He's sensitive and so earnest you just want to hug him. He faces alot of tragedy through...more
chucklesthescot
When I picked up this book I thought it was about the struggle of an African boy and his family trying to flee a war zone, on the run from armed troops who want to kill them, and telling if and how they survived but that is not what the book is about. After a brief introduction to their troubles fleeing between Eritrea and Ethiopia, the boy is brought to Britain and left there alone as a refugee to keep him safe. The story then goes into all the racism and abuse in the childrens home he is put i...more
Laura
An extraordinary book written from the perspective of a fourteen year old mixed race Ethiopian and Eritrean boy. When war breaks out between both countries and Alem’s family are persecuted by both, his father is forced to resorting to taking his only child to England and leaving him their alone while he goes back to look for his mother. His mother is found hacked to death, his father returns to England to find Alem but after protests to fight for their right to political asylum, he is also kille...more
Nancy Freund
This excellent YA novel is part of our school's Year 8 (age 12-13) curriculum, and I've seen so many students (readers, reluctant readers, voracious readers) devour this one that I was eager to read it myself. Absolutely worth it, for the novel itself and for the fact that it led me to Benjamin Zephaniah's poetry and more. Refugee Boy is an excellent story, very revealing about the refugee experience in Britain, and very real. I overhear students discussing Ethiopia and Eritrea with an understan...more
Paige Maddox
I had to read this book for English class and I'm an incredibly quick reader so I was 100 pages or so ahead as sir was reading the book to everyone out loud. My teacher said I could take the book home for the Easter holiday but I only had ten pages left so I finished it after school quickly and went home.

Alem Kelo is a 14 year old boy from both Eritrea and Ethiopia who are at war with each other. His father takes him to London for a day only to leave him that night at a hotel with a note. He is...more
Mrs Mac McKenzie
A story about a young boy whose family is persecuted by ethnic groups in Eritrea and Ethiopea and who is left in England by his father for a better life. His life changes dramatically as he is forced through the asylum seekers route of courts, foster families and lawyers as he tries to state his case of why he needs to stay in the UK. An insightful book, and one which gives a more realistic picture of awaits asylum seekers when they make the decisions to leave their own lands for a better life.
Jeanine


Such a very important story. Full of some much emotion. Shed lots of tears toward the end. Cared so much for Alem. Absolutely beautiful chapter at the end entitled. Let Me Speak. This should be required reading for all. Love the theme that loving and accepting people can be and should be above politics .
Scott
Simple read intended for youth to better understand the plight of Refugees in the UK. It reminded me so much of the work I did at Refugee Action in "myth-busting" the stereotypes of Refugees. It also included Refugee Council in it quite a bit, which is an organization I just interviewed for. Woooo.
Hannah
Feb 12, 2009 Hannah is currently reading it
I have only read about 80 pages, however it i amazing!!!it is such a heartfelt book and even though it is listed as fiction, it sounds as if it is a rue life story. It is extremrly emotional and I would recommend this book t anybody whethe adult or teenager!!!
Gina
This was my 7th grader's summer reading book about an Ehtiopian/Eritrean boy whose father leaves him in England to escape the violence in Africa. It was interesting to read following Cutting for Stone, which describes much of the same conflict.
Hana K
i liked the idea of this book and the theme was very moving but i just couldn't get into the story, connect with the character or enjoy the writing style, which is a shame because i loved one of his other books 'face'.
Crystal Sebastien
awesome i believe its a must read and i think benjamin zephania is a skilled writer ♥ i just love this book how ever i never finished it to see how it ends i cant wait to finish it
Daniel A
Refugee Boy was one of the most different books that I have read. It explained the refugee process and citizenship process. I thought though that too many sad things happened in the book.
Lulu Broad
I liked the plot and I liked the idea but it really did bore me in a lot of places like I didn't feel like I was sucked into it and that curious feeling that I love in books.
Ms Childs
This is a really good read; it's both tragic and uplifting. Zephaniah charts the story of a young refugee in a realistic light without melodrama or bias. Would recommend.
Ronasia
i believe this book is very good. i love the decriptions of the characters n the setting of the book. this book is very touching and heart warming
Jasmine J
im usually interested in books to do with
refugees and war but this
was just bad plain bad....i couldnt get past the
second chapter very boring
Stacey
This is an easy-to-read book for a young adult. Was an interesting topic to read about, but it is definitely written for a young adult.
Sally
Oct 10, 2009 Sally marked it as to-read
Shelves: charity-buys
I read Gansta Rap by him because I saw a program on TV with him in it. I was suprised that I enjoyed it and hope I like this one to.
Cath
Great book with understanding of care system and our refuge/ immigration system
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“This planet is for everyone, borders are for no one. It's all about freedom.” 5 likes
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