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Book Review: Finding Refuge: Real-Life Immigration Stories from Young People by Victorya Rouse

Publisher’s description

When you read about war in your history book or hear about it in the news, do you ever wonder what happens to the families and children in the places experiencing war? Many families in these situations decide that they must leave their homes to stay alive. What happens to them?

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 70.8 million people around the world have been forced to leave their homes because of war or persecution as of 2019. Over fifty percent of these people are under the age of eighteen. 

English teacher Victorya Rouse has assembled a collection of real-world experiences of teen refugees from around the world. Learn where these young people came from, why they left, and how they arrived in the United States. Read about their struggles to adapt to a new language, culture, and high school experiences, along with updates about how they are doing now and what they hope their futures will look like. 

As immigration has catapulted into the current discourse, this poignant collection emphasizes the United States’ rich tradition of welcoming people from all over the world.

Amanda’s thoughts

This wide-ranging collection of the stories of young people who immigrated to the United States is as informational as it is moving. Rouse put this anthology together using students from her own school. Most of the stories look at refugees in the past 5-10ish years, but some go back as far as the 1970s. The format makes it easy to know what to expect and to be able to jump around and read stories in any order you’d like. An introduction covers what a refugee is, why people become refugees, and what happens both when they leave their homes and when they arrive in the US.

The stories are grouped together by continent/region, and then all follow the same format: an initial introduction with information about the country, history, and a look at why people left this place. Then, we get the stories from the refugees themselves. Each person talks about their life, what things were like where they lived, and what changed or finally pushed their family to leave. Most talk about their complicated feelings and the process of leaving, as well as what it was like getting settled in the US. Little epilogues give a short summary of where they are now in life—families, college, work, goals, dreams, hopes, etc.

Because the people included here are all writing to the same general prompts (and the essays seem heavily edited for continuity of content and voice) and because the editor of this collection sometimes sat down with students who told her about their experiences, the only downfall of this collection is that the voices of most of the essays sound the same. I don’t think, however, that criticism is big enough to take anything away from the anthology other than some personality/personal connection. This would be a very useful book to have in collections especially for students to dip into to select stories to read that speak to them for whatever reason. Though each essay is only a few pages (generally 4-6), they create very thorough pictures of just why people choose to or have to leave their homes. A great resource to help create personal connections and understanding. Readers who have their own immigration story will likely see their experience and feelings reflected in these pages.

Review copy (ARC) courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781541581609
Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/07/2021
Age Range: 12+

Comments

  1. Victorya J Rouse says

    I am glad you find the stories informative and moving.

    When I sat down with students to get their permission to use their stories in this anthology I asked them if there was information they wanted to add, but otherwise they have only been edited for grammar and spelling.

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