Shannon's Reviews > A Time of Miracles

A Time of Miracles by Anne-Laure Bondoux
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's review
Mar 21, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: youngadult, anna
Read in March, 2011

A Time of Miracles is a small wonder of a book: quietly well-written, engaging, puzzling and encouraging. It tells the story (or should I say stories?) of Blaise Fortune, a young refugee traveling throughout Eastern Europe/Western Asia with Gloria. Through his eyes, we glimpse refugee camps, an underground railroad-type escape system for Muslims fleeing Georgia, life in a gypsy caravan and what it's like to be an under-aged refugee in France.

This book reminded me strongly of Room and the two books paired together would make for great book club conversations on back-to-back months. It's clear throughout the book that Gloria is weaving tales for Blaise to keep him encouraged, entertained and, ultimately, to keep him alive. But throughout the book and especially at the end, you might wonder, as Blaise does, where the line between a lie and a story is.

One question I asked myself while reading this book is whether my eleven year old and nine year old daughters could read it. There's no sex, no violence, not even any real romance to speak of. But I wondered (and still wonder) whether this story of a boy their age in vastly different circumstances would be disturbing. It might well be, but my eleven year old recently read Words In The Dust and was moved to donate her own money to Women for Afghan Women as a result. I can only keep the tragic state of our world from my daughters for so long and as a lover of books, I can think of few better ways to expose them to these things than through well-told stories that ring with authenticity. A Time of Miracles definitely fits that description. It never wanders into the realm of being saccharine, but Blaise's experiences - and his interactions with other refugees - are certainly enlightening and heartbreaking.

If you're interested in the republics that formerly comprised the Soviet Union - or want to know more about that part of the world, this book will take you there. On the other hand, if you just want to read a book about a young boy finding his way through harsh circumstances with a sense of hope intact, I would still recommend A Time of Miracles. This short book and its well-told truths will stay with you long after the first page.
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