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A Time of Miracles
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Country and Territories > A Time of Miracles (November 2017)

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message 1: by Mariah Roze (last edited Oct 29, 2017 08:01AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1383 comments Mod
November- We will be reading a book that takes place in every country and territory in the world. We will go alphabetically in order. This way we can learn about all the different places in the world.

The first place is Abkhazia.

A Time of Miracles by Anne-Laure Bondoux

Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1383 comments Mod
I started this book today :)

message 3: by Emefa (new) - added it

Emefa | 1 comments What a wonderful book. It was well deserving of its award.

Blaise/Koumail was the "son of criminals". He made a soul searching journey to France which granted him French citizenship even though it was "through a lie" but he was "free and safe" as his mother, Gloria, wished. A mother's commitment to caring for and protecting her child was what stood out to me after reading the book. This quote by Donna Ball, At Home on Ladybug Farm summarizes my feelings about Gloria after reading the book: "Motherhood is a choice you make everyday, to put someone else's happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you're not sure what the right thing is...and to forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong."

Though the book was well written I wish it could have been expanded a bit more. Maybe these were not necessary for the story but I wished Blaise/Koumail would have met his grandparents and uncles. Even if they met and he had to say goodbye the way Gloria did when she left home at least that chapter would be closed in his life. In addition, I wished he met his father Zemzem. In my own version of an addition to the story I wish Blaise/Koumail and Zemzem meet, they catch up on life, and out of pity Zemzem kills himself as a father's sacrifice for his child. This way Blaise/Koumail is truly safe and free. But that's just my version.

Lisa (lisarosenbergsachs) | 122 comments This book was beautifully written. It was classified as a YA book and so it was shortened. I think Blaise's not meeting the other family members or saying good-bye to them was realistic. They were refugees fleeing a dangerous situation and didn't have time to say good-bye. I feel that this book was more about the world of refugees in general than about any particular country. It portrayed the horrors that refugees face beautifully and accessibly also for middle school and high school readers.

Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1383 comments Mod
Question: Is the passport they use... passports that he had when his mother was alive? Is Gloria using his mom's passport? I just read this chapter and I'm a little confused where they came from.

Lisa (lisarosenbergsachs) | 122 comments I think that she deliberately left that hazy. At the time that they got their passports, Abkhasia wasn't a country. It seemed to me that Blaise and Gloria used the passports that she pulled from Blaise's mom as she was dying. Throughout the book, you will find that Blaise is never truly sure about his heritage and the veracity of Gloria's stories. Fleeing from one country to another, he isn't even sure who he is. This must all be part of what it is to be a refugee, a person without a country so to speak.

Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1383 comments Mod
That makes sense!

Okay, I'm almost done with the book and I still feel dumb. What is Caucasus? Is it a religion, city, country? It's not on the map in the front of the book.

message 8: by Shomeret (new)

Shomeret | 25 comments Caucasus is a region. Here's the Wikipedia article about it https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caucasus

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 434 comments Starting the book today.

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 434 comments Heartrending novel. It reminds me of a movie which had me in tears for days:

Life is Beautiful.


message 11: by aPriL does feral sometimes (last edited Nov 28, 2017 09:25PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 434 comments Is a lie the same as a made up story? This question which Blaise asks himself surprised me. It has an implied moral disapproval of Gloria which disappointed me. It was the wrong question. It implies that Blaise is ungrateful and petty. You know that sound of a record player needle skipping?

Blaise lowered himself in my opinion by asking it after finding Gloria - it was an indication of an intellectual failure to understand what Gloria had done for him.

I think here in America the answer is we love stories. It is not immoral. We live here where a media-fueled Disneyland menu of various imaginary worlds is promoted 24/7 from all of thousands of media sources, basically. Everybody wants HBO, Netflix and Starz. We spend thousands of dollars to be entertained, to feel something beyond our lives, to live larger, to reframe what is ordinary. Gloria did the right thing. Goodreads exists because we are fanatics about books, and the best selling ones are fiction genres. This story and the movie ‘Life is Beautiful’ show the value of stories.

Many parts of the world do not do stories in their culture. They do not have fiction novels. Immigrant adults from those places without fiction novels cannot understand why Western nations have fiction novels for sale. In teaching adults how to read and speak English as a volunteer, I not only heard the scorn of such people who were learning about our fiction novels, they usually said, “Why waste your time on made-up stuff?” Science fiction in particular had them hooting in scorn. Scorn for science fiction - written in a nation which put men on the moon, who walked and wriggled their toes in moon-sand.

This is amazing to me. It is a huge gulf in mental functioning, I think.

message 12: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa (lisarosenbergsachs) | 122 comments I have several friends who are American born who only read non-fiction. I argue with them about it but they believe that they are only learning something by reading non-fiction. They made an exception to read my book but it is futile to argue with them in general.
I tell them that they can learn about different cultures and ideas and about what makes people tick by reading fiction - an argument wasted on them. The power of the story is known throughout the world. That's why most ancient peoples have their mythologies.

What was going on with Blaise is somewhat different. He is a boy who is confused about his identity. He has the same issues that many adopted children have compounded by the trauma of being a refugee. When he first learned the truth about Gloria, he didn't know what to do with it. That is a natural reaction. In the end, it seemed to me that he forgave her and was grateful for the sacrifices that she made on his behalf.

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 434 comments Yes, he did forgive her and he never stopped loving her, even though he did not know at first what to do with the truth. She told him the truth when she could, which was very important. Stories are as important to children I believe, like food and water, but Truth is more important to most adults. Stories become more like a good glass of wine or beer after work when you are an adult.

For me, a made up story is not the same as a lie.

message 14: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa (lisarosenbergsachs) | 122 comments This made up story was a lie that she decided to tell for Blaise's own good. We can debate whether or not it was a good idea. I wonder what other people in the group think about this.

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 434 comments I guess knowing that my perspective comes from being an abused child might help understanding what I mean, Lisa. Made-up stories kept me from killing myself at elementary school ages. Reading science fiction stories and hearing concerned elders tell me my life would get better and that I could use education to lift myself away from my parents and their lifestyle kept me going on and studying, doing homework and having hope. Lies meant my parents' telling me I was a kid who deserved to die at age three. Having bad parents is equivalent to living in a bad country where society tries to tell you because you are a minority you should be murdered. I can assure you reading fiction and believing in my teachers and neighbors' 'lies' validating my future hopes was HUGE to me as a child, a tipping point to cause me to fight for my life.

message 16: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa (lisarosenbergsachs) | 122 comments But people telling you that you had a future wasn't a made-up story. It was the truth. Gloria was lying about the past. Maybe she did it for good reasons and it ultimately saved Blaise's life. Or maybe as he got older she could have begun to tell him the truth. It's all debatable. I don't even know how I feel about it.

Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1383 comments Mod
Do you think she should have told him about Zemzem after she saw him on TV or do you think he was still too young?

message 18: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa (lisarosenbergsachs) | 122 comments I think he was probably still too young at that point. She probably should have said something about what she was doing though before she disappeared from the truck. Have her suddenly gone was traumatic for Blaise. She could have mitigated some of that trauma.

Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1383 comments Mod
Lisa wrote: "I think he was probably still too young at that point. She probably should have said something about what she was doing though before she disappeared from the truck. Have her suddenly gone was trau..."

Yeah! I completely agree. I keep thinking of that moment. That was so extremely risky for her to do. To put him in a truck and hopefully reach France safe.

message 20: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa (lisarosenbergsachs) | 122 comments Even if it wasn't risky, his not knowing what happened to her was a trauma he couldn't resolve until he found her. Maybe she felt that she had no choice. After all, they were refugees.

Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1383 comments Mod
I just realized I never wrote a review for this book! I just wrote it and rated this book 4 stars :)

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