Uprooted from their homelands through vastly different circumstances, two teenage boys form an unusual friendship in present-day Brussels. After a bomb kills Ahmed’s mother and sisters, he and his father undertake a treacherous journey from Syria to Greece, but Ahmed arrives alone, his father lost at sea and presumed dead. Once in Belgium, desperate to avoid yet another “reception center... human pens where refugees were crowded together, given expired food, and hollered at by impatient guards,” he flees, sneaking into the basement of a house on Avenue Albert Jonnart, named after a man who hid a Jewish teenager during WWII. Max, a misfit American teen who has just arrived at this house with his family, is grudgingly repeating sixth grade at the nearby “School of Misery.” Alternate chapters share each boy’s perspective with humor and pathos, capturing their sense of profound isolation and fear until they meet each other. Soon Max feels inspired to follow Jonnart’s example. Through the boys’ deepening friendship, Marsh (The Night Tourist) offers a timely and entertaining tale of suspense and intrigue while eloquently conveying the courage necessary to trust another person in a climate rife with fear, suspicion, and ethical dilemmas. Ages 10–14. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 11/19/2018 Release date: 08/07/2018 Genre: Children's
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.