Middle School and Up
Fourteen-year-old Ahmed is stuck in a city that wants nothing to do with him. Newly arrived in Brussels, Belgium, Ahmed fled a life of uncertainty and suffering in Syria, only to lose his father on the perilous journey to the shores of Europe. Now Ahmed’s struggling to get by on his own, but with no one left to trust and nowhere to go, he’s starting to lose hope.
Then he meets Max, a thirteen-year-old American boy. Lonely and homesick, Max is being bothered by a bully at school, he doesn’t speak a word of French, and just can’t seem to do anything right. But with one startling discovery, Max and Ahmed’s lives collide, banding the boys together to help Ahmed survive.
As their friendship grows, Ahmed and Max defy the odds, learning from each other what it means to be brave, and how hope can change your destiny.
Ahmed and Max’s growing friendship reminds me of the more than just friendship between Caitlin and Martin from one of my favorite books I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives. I love how they bond over comics and football. With a back and forth chapter narrative between Ahmed and Max, we learn there’s more than one side to this kind of story.
I’m not up to date on current events. I get my news from random posts on Facebook and Inside Editions YouTube channel, and it is mostly depressing stuff about people killing other people for no good reason. I’m not going to pretend I understand everything that was going on in this story. A lot of the facts and figures went right over my head. From what I can understand there is a big civil war in Syria and people are trying to get away from the warzone by fleeing to other countries, but those countries want them to have papers to prove that they are who they say they are and that they are here legally. It’s hard to get these papers so people forge them. When they get to another country, everyone hates them and wants them to go back to where they came from. If they don’t have their papers or found out that their papers are forged, they are sent to a crowded place or sent back to their original country to die.
These are subjects that needs to be talked about. This book needs to be read by everyone, especially young people because young people have the ability to believe that things can get better.
The main message to take away from this story can be summarized in this quote from the book:
“Even in the darkest times and places, there were always good people, people who would help others out of the kindness of their hearts.”
This weeks’ Weird but True Fact about Belgium
Every other August since 1971, the people of Brussels, Belgium, build a carpet made of flowers, covering 19,000 square feet on the Gland Place, the city’s central square.