My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Penguin Random House Canada
Published: September 18th, 2018
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Recommended Age: 8+
Genres & Themes: Picture Book, Poetry, Refugee Crisis, Short Stories
The #1 New York Times-bestselling author of The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and And the Mountains Echoed responds to the heartbreak of the current refugee crisis with this deeply moving, beautifully illustrated short work of fiction for people of all ages, all over the world.
This is a very short book—a picture book, really—but because of the subject matter, it feels almost heavy in my hands right now. My eyes also understand that this is no bedtime story.
It isn’t the most original piece ever written, but do we really need ‘‘originality’’ when we’re talking about war, chaos and death, or do we need affective? Emotional. Realistic. Vivid. A piece that we understand and that gently awakens our ability to show compassion.
I am slightly ashamed to say that the only other book I read from this author was his graphic novel adaptation of The Kite Runner. I am deeply moved by his writing and yet haven’t experienced the prose in his novels? Shame on me. But this is a poetic work, and a well-written one at that, so I would not recommend reading it before going to, say, a birthday party. I can’t exactly conjure a smile at the moment.
This beautiful poem about the refugee crisis reminded me of a time, I believe three years ago, when I was asked by someone what my opinion was on the people taking refuge in Canada. Because I knew nothing about the topic and the refugees themselves, I said I didn’t have an opinion. Boy do I wish I could take that back now. Go back in time. Bring this book with me. Point and explain. Share and encourage participation in the discussion.
But it’s never too late to learn and open one’s mind. The author is right: If everyone knew what refugees go through in detail, no one would dare say they should go back to where they came from unless, you know, they’re not human.
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