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4.45  ·  Rating details ·  40,112 ratings  ·  6,457 reviews
Three different kids.

One mission in common: ESCAPE.

Josef is a Jewish boy 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 and freedom in America…

Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published July 25th 2017 by Scholastic
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Amiel The connection between Isabel and Josef's story is that Lito was the police officer who jumped off of the U.S St. Louis to save Josef's father when he…moreThe connection between Isabel and Josef's story is that Lito was the police officer who jumped off of the U.S St. Louis to save Josef's father when he tried to commit suicide. Which is why, years later when he was now the refugee he remembered the time when his country denied the Jews entrance into their country, just like the U.S was trying to prevent his family's entrance.(less)
Bookworm123 I loved the book, though it was kinda sad. My teacher read this book to my class.

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Average rating 4.45  · 
Rating details
 ·  40,112 ratings  ·  6,457 reviews

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Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Every ignorant adult should read this, and then slap themselves across the face.

SUCH an important read right now and Alan Gratz told it so brilliantly. Young enough for me to lend to my friend's 9yo, and powerful enough for him to take it seriously.
Oct 30, 2020 rated it liked it
***read for YA lit course***
Hannah Greendale
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

It is 1939, and Joseph is a Jewish boy living in Nazi Germany.

It is 1994, and Isabel is a Cuban girl whose country is plagued by civil unrest.

It is 2015, and Mahmoud is a Syrian boy living in a war-torn country.

All three depart from their homeland and make a perilous journey in search of refuge.

Very little needs to be said of Gratz’s magnificent work. This book will speak for itself through rave revi
Kate Olson
Thank you to Scholastic and Edelweiss for the digital galley of this title - all opinions are my own.

REFUGEE is hands-down the most important upper middle grade book of the year. It is the MUST READ read aloud title for every single middle school teacher this coming 2017-2018 school year, and I don't say that lightly given that I read so so so many books! If WISHTREE by Katherine Applegate is my required read aloud for grades 1-4, then REFUGEE is assigned for grades 5-8.

Gratz weaves three refu
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: refugees
Like RJ Palacio's Wonder, this book should be mandatory reading for middle school age kids in America, teaching about the horrific plight of refugees. There are three separate stories told, each of which is sufficient to evoke empathy from readers: Josef and his family in 1939 (Jews trying to escape Hitler's Europe), Isabel and her family in 1994 (Cubans trying to escape Castro), and Mahmoud and his family (Syrians trying to escape war-torn Aleppo and ISIS.) Each family suffers in different ways ...more
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-borrowed
I borrowed this from our classroom library and once I started, I just couldn't stop. Then again, that is the plight of a reader.

Refugee is a middle grade historical fiction told through the eyes of three children- Josef in 1938 Germany, Isabel in 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud in 2015 Syria. The book also includes maps of each fictional characters journey and includes a thorough author's note about the history behind the story.

A compelling story, Refugee unveils the circumstances that force people to
Nov 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
I was hesitant going into this one because I wasn't sure how the 3 MC stories would tie together. Unfortunately, my fears were confirmed. While I admire Gratz's attempt at penning a engaging read about a crucially important topic, I found the format to be disjointed & underwhelming. The short chapters made it difficult to attach emotional bonds to the MCs & their families. I like the fact that Gratz chose completely different timelines for them (Josef- 1938; Isabel 1994; Mahmoud- 2015) & showing ...more
Dec 31, 2017 rated it liked it
I gave Alan Gratz another chance. After loving Prisoner B-3087, absolutely hating Projekt 1065, and Newbery talk for Refugee, I figured it was time for redemption. This was redeeming enough to make me consider reading other Alan Gratz books in the future, especially for the purpose of recommending them to students. But, it was not redeeming enough to make me change my position that Prisoner was a one-hit-wonder and all these follow-up books with a similar gray-scale cover and red lettering are j ...more
Melanie (TBR and Beyond)
This book was brutal. I will not be forgetting it anytime soon. I need a few days to think on this one to even figure out how to review it.

I would highly recommend this book but it does not tread lightly on the harsh realities of the situation. If your child is going to try this one, I'd recommend reading it with them so you can help give them context and talk about what is happening to these children that you are following.
Aug 20, 2017 rated it liked it
While the subject matter of this book is compelling, I found the format a distraction. The super short chapters never let me stay with one narrative long enough to really emotionally connect with the characters.

That being said, I think this book is important reading for 10-13 year olds. The tales of Jewish, Cuban and Syrian refugees are well told and insightful. Because the main characters are all children, it's a book that will help you younger readers understand the challenges and hardships o
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was a bit surprised about this book, it's really good but I didn't expect to be this juvenile and that threw me off at first, sure the three MCs were teenagers and that should've been enough for me to realize that maybe this isn't what I thought it was but I think I read too many books about kids suffering. It's more about the writing tho, things were explained in a very simple manner that for a moment I thought the author was looking down at me 😅
So yeah it's a really good book just keep in mi
Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ...
Apr 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
Although this book is aimed at young adults I would recommend it to every adult -- especially those in the USA. It is magnificent. Really, really good. It is smart and rich, emotional and real. The author has taken little tidbits of real stories and woven them into his fictional account of three young people who must escape their homelands. They must leave to keep their lives, and yet leaving subjects them at huge risk of dying.

In 1939 Joseph, a Jewish boy living in Nazi Germany, is trying to es
Anna (bibliophiles_bookstagram)
Oh my gosh this book. There has been a handful of books that have put me in tears, and this was one of them. The novel chronicles three different refugee stories: Josef, a Jewish boy in 1939 Germany; Isabel, a Cuban girl in 1994 Havana; and Mahmoud, a Syrian boy in 2015 Aleppo. The stories span almost a century, but the stories are the SAME! One of the most prominent themes is that a little help goes a long way. “[Isabel’s] heart ached with gratitude toward these people. Just a moment’s kindness ...more
This book was really good. It was such a page turner! I was super engaged throughout the whole thing. I would definitely recommend this book.
It just shows that the world is such a friggin mess and how depressing it is!
No child should ever have to go through what these kids did. It breaks my heat to know that these stories were some people's reality. We need more love in this world. I applaud Alan Gratz for writing this book and educating so many people about these characters and their stories.
Jillian Heise
Powerful story of the refugee experience throughout time. A book that will build empathy. I appreciated the short chapters alternating between the three different characters/time periods that built suspense and created parallels in the stories.
Delya Hornstein
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In the book Refugee by Alan Gratz we are introduced to our three protagonist. Josef a Jewish boy living in the 1930's trying to escape the Holocaust and the threats of concentration camps. Isabel is Cuban girl in the years of 1994 during the dictator ship of Castro, she wants to escape the constant riots and famines in her country. Finally we are introduced to Mahmoud, a Syrian boy in 2015. He and his family want to run away from their homeland being torn apart by violence and mass destruction. ...more
Trigger warnings: refugee stories, war, bombings, violence, death, mental health, antisemitism, blood.

Ow, my feelings. This book was pretty freaking phenomenal. It's either middle grade or early YA, and it tells the story of three children from different countries at different times, all of whom become refugees. Josef is growing up Jewish in Germany in 1939. Isabel is Cuban in 1994. And Mahmoud is Syrian in 2015. All three of them undergo different yet equally traumatic experiences. The languag
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't stop reading this book. It was emotionally challenging to keep going at times, but I had become so invested in the journeys of the three main characters, each refugee children from different places in different eras, that I just had to keep going to find out what happened to them. As an ESL teacher who works with lots of refugee children, some parts were especially difficult to read knowing that my students had probably endured similar situations. There is a bit of a twist in the end. ...more
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love this book a lot it is in my top 3 favorite books, I love how it has 3 different sides and in some way all connect. I could recommend this book to anyone weather you like this genre or not. I think the ending in really surprising, I did not expect it at all. Love the style and how the book it set up.
Aileen H
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I will have both my 7th and 9th grade children read this book. I will help them see how Gratz skillfully interwove events and stories to show how history has been repeating itself and how we have to be aware of these refugees' stories and support change. ...more
From the first pages, I knew I was going to begin my school year by reading this book with my classes. Timely and powerful.
Cassidy (Cassidys.Bookshelf)
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2017
Wow. Review to come.
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Everyone needs to read this book, even though the intended audience is middle school students. This novel follows 3 refugee families in three different timelines: Josef’s family during WWII fleeing from Germany, Isabel’s family during Fidel Castro’s rule escaping from Cuba, and Mahmoud’s family during modern-day, war-torn Syria seeking refuge and traveling to Germany. Gratz writes their stories in compelling and realistic details, and teaches us facts and circumstances around these characters’ l ...more
Reread review: 4.5

Original Review:
This book is important. The world is a fucking mess, and it makes me quite depressed. No child should experience any of things that Josef, Ruthie, Isabel, Mahmoud, Waleed or Hanna had to see or go through, but the thing is, that people do every single do. The most depressing story was by far Mahmoud's because it is so real right now. Every day, even now while I write this, people are dying, getting blown up, or losing people they care about. It's a travest
Ms. Yingling
Apr 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Gratz tackles the idea of countries in turmoil by focusing on three children from three different time periods. Josef is a German Jew whose family is able to evade the Nazis after his father is arrested, and eventually book passage on a fairly nice ship bound for Cuba. They eventually run into complications, and the captain attempts to land them in the US and then the UK. Isabel lives in Cuba in 1994, and her family is struggling with the lack of food and t
Ava Pratt
Dec 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: msba-2018
Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud all are refugees on different missions. Josef is a boy who in the 1930's is threatened to be sent to a concentration camp, but he runs off and is now a refugee. Isabel is trying to get out of Havana, Cuba because if the food shortages. Mahmoud is forced to leave his home after a bombing. They are all left with one mission to get out.
I rated this book at 4 stars because this book always kept me on the edge of my seat. All the characters had very strong personalities whi
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The most important book I've read this year in middle grade fiction.

Masterfully written, Gratz weaves the stories of three refugees and their families into a heart-wrenching book that brings to life some of the struggles faced by people fleeing their home countries for a better life. I was moved by the courage and resilience of the characters, and believe the timeliness of the book makes it vital for young people to read.

This is a must read for middle school libraries.
Feb 20, 2019 rated it liked it
I felt the content gave great perspective and it’s very relevant. But the despair, suffering, and deepness of the issues wasn’t reflected in the writing, if that makes sense. The writing felt too simple for the content.

I know though, that it will be a great and hard discussion at book club and I appreciate learning more about what it might be like to be in their shoes.

The actual stories are very worthwhile and it’s a good read for deepening your sympathy.
Sabne Raznik
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow. This is the first time in years that I've been so captured by a novel that I finished it in two days. This is an important and riveting read. ...more
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio
What an amazing story
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10/20/20 Refugee Reflections 1 1 Oct 20, 2020 04:59AM  
I can’t remember what this book is called 1 5 Sep 05, 2020 06:35AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Missing pages in Refugiado by Alan Gratz 4 15 Jun 03, 2020 01:11PM  
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Alan Gratz is the bestselling author of a number of novels for young readers. His 2017 novel Refugee has spent more than two years on the New York Times bestseller list, and is the winner of 14 state awards. Its other accolades include the Sydney Taylor Book Award, the National Jewish Book Award, the Cybils Middle Grade Fiction Award, a Charlotte Huck Award Honor, and a Malka Penn Award for Human ...more

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