by Alan Gratz


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A New York Times bestseller!

JOSEF is a Jewish boy living 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 in America . . .

MAHMOUD is a Syrian boy in 2015. With his homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he and his family begin a long trek toward Europe . . .

All three kids go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. All will face unimaginable dangers — from drownings to bombings to betrayals. But there is always the hope of tomorrow. And although Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are separated by continents and decades, shocking connections will tie their stories together in the end.

This action-packed novel tackles topics both timely and timeless: courage, survival, and the quest for home.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780545880831
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date: 07/25/2017
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 213
Product dimensions: 8.30(w) x 5.60(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Alan Gratz is the New York Times bestselling author of several books for young readers, including Grenade; Refugee; Projekt 1065, a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2016; Prisoner B-3087, a Junior Library Guild selection that was named to YALSA's 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults list; and Code of Honor, a YALSA 2016 Quick Pick. Alan lives in North Carolina with his wife and daughter. Look for him online at

Read an Excerpt

Pak! A pistol rang out again over the waves, and the crowd on the beach cried out in panic. The pistol fired again — pak! — and — ping! — the hull of the Castillos' boat rang as the bullet hit it.

The police were shooting at them! But why? Didn't Castro say it was all right to leave?

Isabel's eyes fell on Luis and his girlfriend, and she understood. They had been drafted into the police, and they weren't allowed to leave. They were deserters, and deserters were shot.

The motor coughed to life, and the boat lurched into a wave, spraying Isabel with seawater. The villagers on the beach cheered for them, and Sr. Castillo revved the engine, leaving the charging policemen in their wake.

Isabel braced herself between two of the benches, trying to catch her breath. It took her a moment to process it, but this was really happening. They were leaving Cuba, her village, her home — everything she'd ever known — behind.

Isabel's father pitched across the roiling boat and grabbed Sr. Castillo by the shirt. "What are you playing at, letting them on board?" he demanded. "What if they follow us? What if they send a navy boat after us? You've put us all in danger!"

Sr. Castillo batted Geraldo Fernandez's arms away. "We didn't ask you to come along!"

"It's our gasoline!" Isabel's father yelled.

They kept arguing, but the engine and the slap of the boat against the waves drowned their words out for Isabel. She wasn't paying any attention anyway. All she could think about was the ninety miles they still had to go, and the water pouring in from the gunshot hole in the side of the boat.

Customer Reviews

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Refugee 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great perspective on what's happening around the world and how refugees are treated. A true story of survival, one that others should not ignore. Unjust policies of other countries, alarming to say the least in 2018.
Kristina_L More than 1 year ago
My heart. This was an emotional read and I am still reeling from it. Yet, this is a must read for everyone! Forget about it being a middle school or young adult book, it's an EVERYONE book. I have seen this novel pop up on list after list. From Twitter to school reading lists, it has been a constant reminder for the past few months. So, I've picked it up and I am so glad I did. With the current political climate, this is an important story to share with everyone. Joseph's story is focused on the escape of one Jewish family from Nazi Germany just before the party picks up steam and full-blown war breaks out. I have read several holocaust survival and escape stories, and this one belongs up there with the greats. Isabel's is a story of how two families come together to leave Cuba and ask for asylum in the USA. The struggles out in the open sea on a small, barely holding together raft ripped my heart in two. Grab a tissue box as you continue reading through all three plots. Mahmoud's story broke my heart time after time and I am still trying to put it back together. I am not sure if it is because it is about events so close to our time period (even happening now) but this plotline really hit me in the gut. Without spoiling anything, I just have to say that as a mother, I do not know how anyone could cope with events as they unfold in the story; especially, knowing that they are still unfolding today. Gratz's characters, their plight, and emotions really came out on the page and left me shouting out for joy but also sobbing through the hard times. As a teacher, I see the value of this book in the classroom for both English and Social Science teachers. I borrowed this book from the library but quickly realized that this is a must own and bought a few copies for myself and to share with some friends. Do yourself a favor and read this book! Yes, you are going to cry but it is something you need to experience.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good book that I have finally read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The stories fit together MUST READ
Anonymous 5 days ago
I liked how the three stories were very similar even though they occurred at different times in history.
Emilio-Gomez100 7 months ago
I chose to read "refugee" because it was for a class assignment. Some things I liked about this book is that each individual story was connected to another in a way. Every character in the story had their own personality and stood out from each other. Something I didn't like about this book was how predictable each event in the book was. It was always a pattern of good,bad,good,bad. Otherwise this book was very exciting. I would give this book 5 stars because it was a very emotional and the stories felt very realistic in my opinion. I would recommend this book to people who want to know how difficult it can be to move to a new country. I would recommend it to them because it shows how people are willing to risk their lives for a better chance. This book shows how desperate some situations can become
Anonymous 7 months ago
I chose this book for English Class because it seemed relevant to this time period, and it is. It talks about 3 refugees fleeing 3 different places in 3 different time periods, Josef is a Jewish boy fleeing Nazis in 1938, Isabel is fleeing Cuba in 1994, and Mahmoud is fleeing the Syrian Civil War in 2015. I liked how all the stories are semi-similar, all of them losing a family member, seeing their original home destroyed, and face threats of doom along the way. All the stories tying together in the end made it better as well. The only problem I have is Josefś story seemed unfinished to me in my opinion. For these reasons, I give this book 5 stars. I recommend this book for people 13 years or older, as there is some tragedy, but little/no swearing, nothing sexual, and no gore.
Anonymous 7 months ago
I chose Refugee because I really like books that are based on true stories. The stories of the three main characters really caught my attention. Something I really liked about the book was how it was written and how it was told. What I kind of disliked was how Alan Gratz ended the story. I think there should be a sequel to it. because I think a lot more be told. I would give Refugee a 4.5. I just didn't like how it ended and think there could have been a better ending. I would recommend this book to people who are open minded and that are emotionally strong, because there are many emotional parts.There are also many parts where if you aren't open-minded, you wouldn't really understand what is going on.
AmberK1120 More than 1 year ago
Ok, so I finished listening to this book a while ago and have been sitting on the review because I have had no idea what to say. This book blew me away. Blew. Me. Away. You know the mind blown emoji? That. I think it’s important to say, right away, that this is a tough book. Even though it’s aimed at middle grade readers and I’m supposedly a mature adult, this still wrecked me. I found myself questioning whether this was really appropriate for younger readers because it’s quite dark and a bit gruesome, but in the next breath I’d remind myself that this is the world we live in. I realize it’s the decision of the child’s guardian as to whether or not they are allowed to read this, but I don’t think it’s doing them any favors to shield them from the harsh realities of the lives of refugees. The characters go through some horrific experiences all in the name of survival, and it’s a learning experience for all of us. Despite the levity of the story, the characters have some amazing voices. I loved that different narrators were used to bring each of them to life. It really helped to round each of them out much better than I could’ve done with my own reading voice. And the way their stories interweave was brilliant. I predicted how it might play out early on, but it didn’t disappoint. Ultimately this is a deep, dark book that is so important for people to read, young and old alike. It’s a hard read with some important lessons within, and yet it leaves you in a good place. Highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an incredible read. When I picked it up, I did not know it was for young readers but it doesn't matter. The stories are told so beautifully and the end just leaves you so happy.
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
I had a hard time putting this novel down.  Each of the three stories that made up this novel was fascinating, adventitious and energizing.  Whether I was with Aaron escaping Europe, or with Isabel as she tries to make it to the United States or with Mahoud as they try to sneak into Turkey, I was emotionally attached to these refugees as they fought for a better life.  They each started their journey with their families, their sights were on freedom, and I found myself getting upset as each chapter came to a close.  I didn't want to leave each of the individual worlds as the author changed the scenes and the characters, I wanted these children to step on free soil, I wanted to know that they had finally made it.  There were scenes in the novel that made me gasp, scenes that almost made me cry and scenes that flooded me with emotions. Traveling to unfamiliar territory, there is fear of the unknown, the fear that they will be welcomed after their journey and the fear that they will survive the ordeal.  I highly recommend this novel.