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A young refugee crosses continents in this timely heartbreaking and ultimately uplifting novel of survivalShif has a happy life unfamiliar with the horrors of his country's regime He is one of the smartest boys in school and feels safe and loved in the home he shares with his mother and little sister right next door to his best friend But the day that soldiers arrive at his door Shif knows that he will never be safe again his only choice is to run Facing both unthinkable cruelty and boundless kindness Shif bravely makes his way towards a future he can barely imagineBased on real experiences and written in spare powerful prose this gripping debut illustrates the realities faced by countless young refugees across the world today Refugee 87 is a story of friendship kindness hardship survival and above all hope


10 thoughts on “Refugee 87

  1. says:

    This was a book I think I wanted to like than I actually did I think it's a perfect book for its target audience especially in how it tackles some really difficult themes and real world conflicts through the lens of the child main character However in comparison to some of the other very powerful books on the same or similar subjects this book just felt weakly written Shif is a clever and resourceful but timid boy living in an unnamed Middle Eastern country affected by government crackdowns corruption and violence He attends school with his best friend Bini excels in Mathematics and chess and hopes one day to be an engineer or a maths teacher When the threat of compulsory military service arrives too soon the boys have to prepare to leave the country on a terribly unknown journey to somewhere safer But caught in the act of almost leaving Shiff and Bini are instead captured and taken to a prison camp in the desert locked up in a shipping container There they hear the stories of others who have spent many years incarcerated there and understand that they have to escape not only for themselves but so that those voices can be heard tooBoy 87 is a very moving story in a lot of ways Much of its emotional potency definitely comes from its subject matter and the very real reflections that can be drawn from Shif's experiences to the real experiences of many refugees escaping conflicts around the world I expected it to be about the journey and especially the crossing of the Mediterranean sea and uite liked that my expectations there were twisted a little and the story shifted its scope Friendship is really wonderfully explored in this book with Shif's close relationship with his childhood friend Bini as well as another character he makes friends with later The story's well plotted and the pacing was consistent enough to keep me engaged but the ending felt rather sudden and without the lift of hope I think was intended Mostly this book was only three stars for me because the writing was just nothing special There were a few lines that stood out but the majority is simple and uite telling which I think would be good and accessible for reluctant or struggling readers For me it lacked a sense of depth and character that I really love and felt a bit too generic to be memorable


  2. says:

    As I’ve read a number of refugee stories over the last couple years I’m amazed at just how different each one is and just how much I learn about each uniue situation that so many face as they attempt to escape terrifying lives in their countries of origin In this story 14 year old Shif is a bright student who has just recently discovered the truth of his father’s disappearance many years ago Now he faces a potentially cruel introduction to the armed services being called a traitor to his country His mother immediately arranges travel for his uick escape with his best friend but their packed backs are discovered before they can even leave This story is based on real life experiences and is certain to keep readers on the edge of their seat–possibly finishing in just one sitting We need of these stories in our schools and children’steen libraries everywhereFor children's literature middle grade literature and YA literature reviews feel free to visit my personal blog at The Miller Memo


  3. says:

    Harrowing story of how a young person becomes an immigrantA nameless country a young man and his story of circumstances that conspire to force him into considering leaving his home and family behind Shif is 14 and along with his best friend Bini loves school chess and maths After the disappearancedeath of his father with his mother fearing they will be forced into military service and never return Shif and Bini prepare to flee The story takes some rather dark turns with the two boys subjected to horrific situations potentially upsetting for some readers as they illustrate for us what life can mean in countries that we don't hear much aboutShif makes a moving narrator especially on the audiobook as him speaking directly to us adds a layer of authenticity and realism His story a perfect way into topics of emigration and refugees The book does not delve into such graphic content that younger readers would be excluded but I would say a readership of age 10 and above would best be able to cope with the subject matter and that parentsteachers should make themselves aware of the content first so they are on hand to discuss and answer uestions


  4. says:

    A powerful story I’d be happy to share this with a confident resilient secure class of Y6 children it provides opportunities for rich discussions about poverty and injustice and cruelty but I’d urge caution the main character is often in real peril and he experiences the violent loss of people he is close to Read the whole novel before you think about sharing it with a whole class and watch very closely any child who chooses to read it independentlyThe violence and death does happen ‘off screen’ there’s nothing explicit in the text but the reader is absolutely aware that people have died I liked the structural device of starting the story with a flash forward that’s then repeated verbatim at the end with an extension of that episode which finishes the story in a very satisfying way We always know where the main character is headed and that gives us some security


  5. says:

    it was ok


  6. says:

    Rufgee 87 is the heartbreaking and inspirational story of Shif his best friend Bini and their journey to Europe as refugees escaping military conscription in their home country The story is fast paced and told in a spare but compelling language The reader is immediately drawn into Shif’s impoverished but full life as a young student with a sharp mind and love of beating his best friend Bini at chess In Shif’s home country it’s common practice for teens to join the military and serve a minimum amount of years facing arduous physical conditions and entrapment never to return home again Unfortunately for Shif his father was labeled as a dissenter by the government and detained several years earlier This left Shif his mother and younger sister alone with a target placed on their backs Since then Shif has been keeping his head down and in his books but a chance encounter with the military while out buying produce puts him on their radar Fearing retaliation Shif’s mother begins to make plans with Bini’s mother Saba to expedite the boys to safety But before their plan can be put into motion the military comes for the boys unexpectedly Bini and Shif must leave their family and belongings behind with nothing but the clothes on their backs and some money Shif’s mother had sewn into his shoes many nights earlier This forward thinking act from his mother and Shif’s uick wits help the boys navigate many perilous situations throughout the story including a prison camp refugee traffickers and other adults looking to take advantage of their situation Amidst the heart pounding tension are themes of friendship trust and help from kind strangers along the way that propels the reader from the beginning to the end of Shif’s journey I can’t go divulge too much about the plot without getting into spoilers but this book was breathtaking and incredibly relevant concerning the present day refugee crisis An interesting note form the author states that the countries mentioned in the story are never specifically named as Shif’s story can be applied to children across the world today—Central America Syria Myanmar and South Sudan though there are clues left in the text for the reader if they wish to dig deeper and trace Shif’s journey for themselves For similar titles check out “Refugee” by Alan Gratz and the graphic novel “Illegal” by Eoin ColferClick here to find the book at the Prince William County Public Library System


  7. says:

    I really enjoyed reading this book and getting to know the characters but i feel that the ending was very rushed and i still wanted too find out about them and about what happened too them


  8. says:

    This review is also available on my blog Unsupervised in a Bookstore This is a short and deceptively simple book following fourteen year old Shif as he makes the dangerous journey from his home in Africa to find safety in Europe The plot is straightforward and the first person narration is pared back childlike and sincere At first glance the storytelling feels simple but there is just enough here to allow the reader to connect with Shif and to experience the frightening events of the story with him The elegant spare language gives the reader clear insights into Shif's character his hopes and dreams for the future and his ability to survive the trials of the journey Nothing is over dramatised but the threats and the danger feel real With its simple storytelling and short length 'Boy 87' feels like a book for younger children but the events Shif describes reuire a YA level of maturity to understand and connect with As an adult I found the story truly frightening imagining what it would feel like to have to leave your home escape to another country and trust people smugglers to take you on the dangerous sea crossing This isn't heroic YA It isn't a story of adventure or triumph But it is an insight into the motivations of the migrants who try again and again to reach safety in Europe Shif's experiences are relatable haunting and undoubtedly realistic and the book would make a great introduction to the subject of migration majorityminority world politics and the value of human life'Boy 87' is an easy but thought provoking read and an effective introduction to an important contemporary subject Definitely recommended


  9. says:

    Shif a young boy in a nameless but presumably Middle Eastern country flees to avoid conscription It's the start of a long journey to what he hopes will be freedom in England meeting and losing different people along the way The country is nameless but the journey echoes those many people many children are being forced to take simply to stay alive This is a heartfelt little book; it would be great to use in a classroom as the start of a discussion about refugeesBe aware while the actual violence is restricted to some pushes and shoves and some 'offscreen' shooting it's clear that some characters die during the book A boat tips over and it's clear some people have drownedReceiving an ARC did not affect my review in any way


  10. says:

    A simple style with a powerful punchShif is a clever young boy He has plans for his future and intends to teach after his military training What he doesn’t know is that so much of what he’s been told is a cover upShif ends up with soldiers coming for him He is taken to a detention centre in the desert manages to escape and has a traumatic time trying to get back to what he knewIn a straightforward even simple way we are shown just how easily someone can end up on the wrong side of a regime and it gives some insight into what the story might be behind those seeking refuge in another country