Nowhere Boy

Kather­ine Marsh

  • Review
By – October 15, 2018

This is a time­ly and riv­et­ing sto­ry of the friend­ship between a young Syr­i­an refugee alone in Brus­sels, and a white Amer­i­can boy strug­gling to adjust to life in a new country.

Four­teen-year-old Ahmed has lost his entire fam­i­ly. Strand­ed and scared, he is far from every­thing famil­iar, and sur­round­ed by peo­ple fear­ful of Mus­lim immi­grants. He finds a hid­ing place in the base­ment of the home of thir­teen-year-old Max, who has prob­lems of his own; his fam­i­ly has just moved to Brus­sels from Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and he feels hope­less and alone in his new envi­ron­ment. The sto­ry of how the boys’ friend­ship grows and the ways in which they help each oth­er is beau­ti­ful­ly told and pow­er­ful­ly resonant.

Ahmed and Max’s sto­ry par­al­lels that of a res­i­dent of the same street in Brus­sels who hid an orphaned Jew­ish refugee dur­ing World War II. This true sto­ry is revis­it­ed through­out the book.

Nowhere Boy is in turns despair­ing, exhil­a­rat­ing, hope­ful, and sus­pense­ful — and ulti­mate­ly uplift­ing. The writ­ing is first-rate.

Leslie Kim­mel­man grew up out­side Philadel­phia and grad­u­at­ed from Mid­dle­bury Col­lege in Ver­mont. She is the author of many children’s books, awards for which include Best Children’s Books of the Year from the Bank Street Col­lege of Edu­ca­tion; Notable Children’s Trade Books in the Field of Social Stud­ies; and Syd­ney Tay­lor Notable Books. Kim­mel­man is an edi­tor at Sesame Work­shop and lives with her fam­i­ly just north of New York City.

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