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Refugees - Catherine Stine : A Review

Title: Refugees
Author: Catherine Stine
Year of Publication: 2005
Genre: Young Adult, Historical
Pages: 277
First Line: "Johar! Are you sitting down? If not, brace yourself. I just bought my ticket to Afghanistan!"

Summary: September 11, 2001 Two teenagers aon opposite sides of the globe flee everything they know. In a world turned upside down by tragedy, they are refugees.

Sixteen-year-old Dawn runs away from her unhappy foster home in California and travels to New York City. Life as a runaway doesn't seem so bad--until the unthinkable happens. Amid the sadness and confusion of the traumatized city, Dawn is more frightened and alone than she ever could have imagined.

Johar, and Afghani teenager, sees his world crumble before him. With a baby cousin in tow, he flees his war-ravaged village and the Taliban and makes a dangerous trek to a refugee camp in Pakistan.

Thanks to his knowledge of English, Johar finds a job at the camp assisting Louise, who is the Red Cross doctor--and Dawn's foster mother. When, after September 22, Dawn finally calls Louise, it's Johar who answers. Soon the two begin e-mailing and phoning regularly. Dawn doesn't tell Louise that she's in New York, but she tells Johar. As Dawn and Johar share and protect each other's secrets, fears, and dreams, a remarkable bond forms--a bond that gives each of them hope and the courage to find a path home.

(Source: Back of book)



Review: The idea of writing about 9/11 interested me. This fictional story helped me to understand what was going on in Afghanistan at the time. It was an interesting read, but had a more "story-telling" tone to it, rather than the tone of a novel. Aside from that, the story was interesting. Characters were interesting but slightly one-dimensional and I felt that characters who were not main were sort of ignored. I've always thought a good character is the star of their own story--not just background for the characters who the novel happens to be about, if that makes any sense. In any case, I was surprised Osama Bin Laden wasn't mentioned (not even once) and after the attack itself occurred, there wasn't a whole lot of information on what was going on in the big picture of the incident. It mostly focused on the individual characters. It took awhile for Johar and Dawn to actually interract. I was surprised that the first conversation didn't really occur until half way through the book.

All in all, an interesting read. Not particularly well-written but enjoyable.

Worst part: I wasn't a huge fan of the writing style. I felt like I was watching a movie, rather than reading a book, or I felt like I was listening to someone tell the story, which I don't like when I'm reading.

Best part: The situation with Dawn's birth mother was sort of unresolved at the end. I didn't like how they did it at first, but in retrospect, I am glad it was handled the way it was.

Grade: B

Other Books by This Author: N/A
Tags: category: young adult, review, subject: history, xxx author last name: r-z
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