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Across the Big Blue Sea: Good Intentions and Hard Lessons in an Italian Refugee Home

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  74 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Thousands of people risk crossing the treacherous waters of the Mediterranean Sea each year. But what happens if they make it to the other side?

On a hot July day, the Italian coast guard rescues five young Nigerian women in a battered boat. At the same time, Katja Meier is put in charge of a small refugee home in the Tuscan countryside. But a quaint hilltop town with an ag
Published February 21st 2017 by Ficari Publishing
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Average rating 4.08  · 
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 ·  74 ratings  ·  15 reviews

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Katja Meier
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
"Perfectly done, with so much humor and outrage both, Across the Big Blue Sea says more than most anything I've read about the 'refugee crisis' and how the system is set up to fail, even the best-intentioned and most well-meaning (without shying away from the fact that plenty of people involved are neither)."
- Lauren Collins, The New Yorker staff writer /editor and author of When in French
Nathalie Boisard-Beudin
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An amazing and touching memoir of a seemingly impossible task. A must read.
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club
A very readable, honest and authentic account of the author‘s experience of helping in a refugee home in Tuscany. She doesn’t profess to have solutions to the situation but relates the events in a very non-judgmental fashion. A fascinating read and I’m glad it was a book club choice for our group as it led to a really good discussion.
"Across the Big Blue Sea" is one of those books that I think most people need to read bc this world, oh the horrors, and don't you ever forget it.
Corinne Dabbagh
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book after having met you, Sergio and the children helped even more to understand this real story, the experience you made with the refugees. I read this book in one day as it was very interesting and well written. Knowing the region I could imagine these Nigerians girls ... thank you Katja for what you did for them even so it was very difficult. Thank you for the help you generously gave to the refugees. My in laws are Palestians refugees and I know, a little bit , what it means.
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Across the Big Blue Sea is an honest, simple and easy to read book that shows some of the realities of refugees fleeing violence, war and persecution face when settling into a foreign country. I really admire Katja’s commitment and dedication to do everything she could for them, even when her work contracts were so precarious. She did it because she truly cared, and that is rare. We need more people like her!

The only bits of the book I didn’t care for were the sometimes inner-monologue style of
Nicole Costello
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this book! It’s rare that we get to hear from the side of kind people helping refugees, getting them settled in their new countries, assisting with the beaurocratic nightmare of gaining residence papers, trying to understand their traumas.
As someone who has seen firsthand the animosity Italians have towards white residents in their country, I think Katja has managed to capture this in a humorous and honest way. It’s time we all educated ourselves on refugees and helped them. The
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a story of generosity, a need to help fellow human beings. It is a story of enduring and overcoming adversity, clashes of culture and mind boggling bureaucratic hurdles. Katja's writing is redolent with compassion, patience and empathy. Katja may criticise the refugee's behaviour but is always empathetic and is never judgemental. A wry sense of humour carries the whole text (I love the references of Sergio - as well as admire his patience) and makes for easy reading. But above all, hats ...more
Debbie Clark
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Heart Rending and Thought Provoking

As the situation in third world countries grows more horrendous, people seeking refuge in Europe are willing to do just about anything to escape. Sometimes that means selling their bodies. Human trafficking and sex working has become big business. This book gives an uncomfortable glimpse into the realities of life in a refugee home in the Tuscan countryside of Italy.
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book for its humor and honesty of how good intentions can do very little in the face of cultural misunderstanding and bureaucratic obstacles. Katja Meier's book is a testimony to her courage and to the courage of the women she encountered during this challenging times. I highly recommend this.
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love Meier's honest voice. This is a raw, uncompromising book with a self-deprecating, warm human voice. A fascinating story, rich characters, very touching, endearing, real and unsentimental. She deals with Big Issues, without lecturing..she just tells the story and leaves you to ponder. I recommend it highly.
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Truthful about migrants but falls into the usual clichés regarding Italy and Italians. Ultimately delivers a negative message though doubtless reflects Katia's honest account of her experience of working with Nigerian female migrants/sex workers caught up in human trafficking. Highly readable
Daniel Mont
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Dec 26, 2018
Olivia Ellis
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Jun 18, 2019
Pam Phinney
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Jan 01, 2018
Daniel Mont
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Dec 26, 2018
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Jul 04, 2017
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Apr 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I got to know Katja though her very pretty and very peaceful Instagram @anythingtuscan without any idea of the turmoil in her one part of her life.

The refugee/migrant issue in Italy is complicated and heartbreaking and feels very hopeless. This book shows how that is not an excuse for not trying to do something.

Guido Tenconi
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Sep 05, 2017
Evan Kleiman
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Giulia Scarpaleggia
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Jul 09, 2017
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Oct 20, 2018
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Apr 09, 2018
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Wilma Bates
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Aug 27, 2017
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Jul 01, 2017
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Katja Meier was born in Switzerland and has lived in Italy for two decades. Trained as an actor, she worked as a travel writer, wedding planner and life coach before taking on an Italian refugee home.

Katja writes for travel publications and lives with her family in a little-known valley in the often-cited Tuscan countryside. She is currently working on the screenplay for the film adaptation of 'A

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