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Description

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Reader's Reviews

Refugee Boy is a magnificent book drawing you in to look closely at the experience of a fourteen year old boy who is stuck in the midst of the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. From the very beginning the author throws you directly into the storyline into the middle of a police invasion in a family home. Centred on culture, war, separation and relationships, the author Benjamin Zephaniah describes the story of Alem who is taken on holiday to England by his father but sadly left there alone for his own protection from the war.

As a reader you are able to engage in all of the characters emotions from the separation. Alem’s adjusting process into a brand new country is fascinating and gives you an insight of a refugee child’s view point. The descriptive language and structure of the book allows you to feel as though you are part of Alem’s journey. Following his journey in to a children’s home and his adjusting process allows the audience to relate and explore him having to create a new lifestyle. This book gives you an opportunity to relate to a new culture and to understand how other children respond to the British culture. Benjamin Zephaniah uses descriptive language and specifically concentrates on setting tragic scenes in order to really engage the audience. He also focuses on how Alem tackles tough and emotional life events which gives you an insight in to other childrens experiences.


Refugee Boy - Benjamin Zephaniah.

Alem is a fourteen year old boy and is about to embark on an experience that will truly change his life forever. Believing he is beginning the holiday of a life time with his loving father, Alem feels truly privileged to be sight seeing in London enjoying the architecture and the food. The story is told narratively and objectively with the author displaying emotions through Alem. Born to an Ethiopian father and Eritrean mother and with both countries at war, this is a welcome break for Alem who has experienced many unpleasant and even terrifying experiences back home. After an amazing few days, Alem wakes to the frightening realisation that his father has gone, believing he will be safe in the UK. The Hotel Manager supports Alem by involving the Refugee Council who immediately make attempts to help him and Alem shows courage and bravery throughout his experiences with them.

After an unpleasant few weeks in a children's home, Alem is fostered by a very welcoming and encouraging family and despite missing his family, he settles in very well. His happiness is short lived when he receives a letter from his father informing him his mum has been killed and naturally he is devastated.

He and his father are reunited and the book describes in stages, the asylum process and the harrowing ordeal that comes with it. His fathers accommodation is described as filthy and gloomy with little facilities or furniture but they are obviously relieved to be together again. The story continues with many ups and downs for Alem and certainly puts a different angle on Asylum, that is often portrayed in the media .There is a good insight into the Ethiopian culture and an opportunity to embrace community spirit, at it's best with, a political stance to support Alem and his father.

This is a teen drama with a difference, incorporating racism, war, death and the difficulties of being a refugee. This book is certainly an eye opener and a lesson for young readers.

The story would be suitable for upper primary readers and the key themes could be used across the curriculum in a wide range of subjects.

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