Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Passover: Stories of Emigration

Passover started at sundown on Monday. I decided against trying to find a novel for each of the plagues and instead focus on what the Passover story is about-- a people fleeing a repressive and oppressive government. This is a story that we're still living today.


The Good Braider by Terry Farish. In this verse novel, Viola's family leaves South Sudan for Cairo and, eventually, Maine, where she tries to move on from the horrors she faced at home and fit into American society.

Journey of Dreams by Marge Pellegrino. Caught in the violence and brutality of the Guatemalan Civil War, Tomasa and her family journey to find her mother, and then journey further to the United States.

Home Is Beyond the Mountains by Celia Barker Lottridge. In 1918, Turkey invaded Persia and Samira's Assyrian village was burned to the ground. Her family flees to the mountains, but only she and a brother survive, to bounce between refugee camps and orphanages. Then, she's given the opportunity to walk back over the mountains and return home.


First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers by Loung Ung. Ung's family lived in Phnom Penh until the Khmer Rouge took power and sent them to labor camps and trained Ung to be a child soldier. This harrowing memoir is gripping and makes the history and politics easy to understand for teens unfamiliar with the time period. Follow it with Lucky Child: A Daughter of Cambodia Reunites with the Sister She Left Behind, which follows Ung's early years in the US after escaping Cambodia.

A Time of Miracles by Anne-Marie Bondoux, translated from the French by Y. Maudet. Koumail knows that his real name is Blaise Fortune. He is a French citizen. As a baby, he was rescued from a train wreck by Gloria. Since the age of 7, they have been on the run from the rebels, from the war. He doesn't understand the war and everytime he asks, Gloria tells him that it's useless to try to understand the Caucasus. It's not the concern of a French citizen.

Leaving Glorytown: One Boy's Struggle Under Castro by Eduardo F. Calcines. As he grows up in Castro's Cuba, Eduardo gets used to watching what you say, used to hunger, used to his father being gone at labor camp (for daring to apply for an exit visa), used to the jealousy as other families get their visa and his family is still stuck.


Forgotten Fire by Adam Bagdasarian. In 1915, Vehan Kenderian's father is arrested by the Turkish police and his older brothers are executed in the family courtyard. Vehan and the remaining family members are forced out of their home and into a stream of other Armenians. He manages to escape and, somehow, survive.

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta. I seem to put this book on every list. I'm not sorry about it, either. Aftr the days of the unspeakable, Seranonna curses Lumatere, and its exiles are left to find each other and try to find a way home, never knowing if there's a home to find their way back to. I'm putting it on this list, as the years the Lumaterans spend wandering and trying to survive remind me of the years the Jews spent in the desert after fleeing Egypt.

The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen. This is the book that still makes me a little wary to open the door and see if Elijah's coming. For when Hannah does it, she's no longer in New Rochelle, surrounded by relatives who do nothing but remember, she finds herself in a Polish village in the 1940s, the only one who understands what's happening and how much worse it's about to get.

What books would you add to the list?

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1 comment:

  1. Definitely add:
    "Never Fall Down" by Patricia McCormick - This follows Arn as he struggles to survive the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. His motto: "never fall down" helps him survive even when he becomes a child soldier with the Khmer Rouge.

    "Between Shades of Gray" by Ruta Sepetys - In 1941, Lina is pulled from her home in Lithuania and sent to Siberia. When her father is sentenced to death, she decides to record her story in pictures and bury it.


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