Monday, January 15, 2018

The real final post.

This novel study has been a journey. The book was an amazing read, and it really was a necessary book to write. But now that we are done, it is time for the final post about this book. I am to pass judgment on this novel to end this novel study off. I have a couple questions to address and help me to analyze this novel better, so let's get right into it. 

The first question is as follows “Is this novel a good candidate for the Global issues Novel Study? Why or why not?” And it is quite easy to answer. This book is a great candidate for a novel study about global issues because it addresses some of the biggest issues in the world right now. Josef’s journey is out of Nazi Germany, which is tied to racism, genocide, and the problem of refugees. Isabel’s journey is tied to dictatorship, poverty, and refugees. Mahmoud’s journey is tied to war and refugees, among other things. This novel does an amazing job at showing how grueling the journey of a refugee is. This book would definitely be my first choice if I was selecting books for this study. 

Next question is “Is this novel a good read? Why, or why not?”. That is very easy to answer.This novel is an amazing read. It is written well, and treads lightly on the issues it brings up, but still enough to inform you of them. It is suspenseful, and you never know what is going to happen to the characters next. You know the character’s goals, but you never know what could happen on the journey. This is a great piece of historical fiction, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone. I’d say the type of reader that would like this the most would be someone who likes being held in suspense and likes a fresh take on real-world occurrences, but can also keep track of multiple storylines at once. I would definitely recommend this book, so if you are reading this, go read it.

The last question is “Have you read other books that should be added to this novel study? If so, list them”. Honestly, I am not that big of a reader for this type of book, so I don’t really have any to recommend. But if you have read any books that you think would make a good addition, feel free to comment it. Thanks for reading, and see you next post!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Isabel's room

We’ve made it to the end of the book! Hooray! As a little thing to do at the end of the book, I thought that i know enough about the characters in the novel to design a room for them, with lots of objects and symbolism involved. So now let me walk you through what I created.


I chose to create a room for Isabel, the cuban girl that is one of the three protagonists in this novel. Most of the objects in this room have a symbolic meaning. Let’s start with the arrangement of the room itself (Excuse my terrible drawing skills by the way). I put more items on the right side of the room to symbolize the rising action of the story, but also the arrangement of a song. A song can be compared to a story, because they are often used to tell stories. During the novel, isabel often compares her journey to a song. I thought that her room could mirror that by having more items in the middle-right side of the room to symbolize the climax and rising/falling action. I also put the objects that relate more to cuba on the right side, and the ones that relate more to the states on the left. This represents how isabel now lives in the states, but part of her still lingers in cuba. So now that we know how the room is arranged, let’s move on to the actual objects in the room. 

I put the American and Cuban flags on opposite walls of the room to show how she is a dual citizen, but also to show her journey from her bed (Which also slightly symbolizes her home in cuba) To her new life in america. This can also relate to the trumpet on the wall. I put isabel’s trumpet above her bed to show how much that trumpet, and isabel herself is connected to cuba. That trumpet was very important to her, but she sacrificed it to get gasoline to get to america. Her music is so close to her heart, and she plays the music of cuba with it. But I drew the trumpet facing towards the “american side” so that trumpet is almost bringing part of cuba into america with isabel. Ivan is killed by a shark on the way to miami (Page 209), and the only thing left of his is the cap he left in the boat. I chose to hang his hat on the wall because Ivan was isabel’s best friend, so this momento would mean a lot to her. But it also represents a connection to her homeland of Cuba. The Industriales are cuba’s baseball team, and the hat represents how even though she is now living in the U.S she feels a connection to cuba that still lingers.

If you look closely, there is a picture of a cross and a jewish star of david on her desk. This represents religion, which fidel castro discouraged people from practicing when he was elected. The star of david is meant to symbolize the event that drove isabel’s grandfather to sacrifice himself and be taken back to cuba so the rest of them get to the states. Isabel’s grandfather was one of the policeman that turned the ship Josef was on away in 1939 and feels terrible. He wonders how many jews he sent to their deaths, and decides that he needs to stop waiting for things to get better. He jumps out of the boat and forces the coast guard to save him first, which allows the rest of the people on the boat to get to land. On the right side, if you can read it, there is a poster that reads “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor”. The sea is basically the protagonist in isabel’s journey. It is what creates most of the events in the book. They go through storms, beating sun, and it even takes her best friend. But the quote is also important. It means that you have to work hard to do well. She and her family struggled, powered through and survived the trip to the states. And now they can enjoy a new life in the states. And finally we have the little rug in the middle of the room. The lines that spiral around to the middle are meant to be like a whirlpool, and they have two dots in the middle like eyes. This is meant to symbolize the constant danger that the sea presents, but the eyes in the middle could also be Ivan calling to isabel from the deep.

So This is the final post of the Refugee novel study, I hope you enjoyed it like I did, and maybe you even read along with me! I probably wont be posting much until the next time I do a novel study, so thnks for reading and see you next time!

Re-writing the story?

My eyes fly open and I sit up in my bed. My name is Rachel landau. I have a husband named Aaron landau and two children, a boy named Josef and a girl named Ruth. I strain my ears, waiting for the next sound. 10 seconds pass. Then 30 seconds. Then a minute. But just as soon as I begin to relax, the door flies open and 4 large men storm the room. They break lamps, furniture, and drag my husband and I into the living room. The man that is restraining me shoves me to the ground and I feel a boot dig into my back. Minutes later, more men come out of the children’s room holding Josef and Ruth. “Josef! Ruth!” I cry and lunge towards them, only to be yanked back by the back of my nightgown. Two men pick up my husband by the arms and start to carry him towards the door. 

  “Aaron Landau ,” one of them says, “you have continued to practice law despite the fact that jews are forbidden to do so under the Civil Service Restoration Act of 1933. For this crime against the German people, you will be taken into protective custody.” 
“This is all a misunderstanding,” Aaron says. “If you’d just give me a chance to explain —“ He is cut off as they drag him outside and slam the door. I pull my children into a hug and after we have cried as much as we can, I take them into my room and sleep until morning. 

It has been 6 months since my husband was taken to the concentration camp named Dachau. We had just gotten a telegram from him that said he had been released from the camp under the condition that he’d leave Germany within 14 days. We have planned to go on a voyage to Cuba, which was the only country we could find that was accepting refugees. “Quickly now children, we have to find your father and get to the ship.” As I say that, a figure darts towards me from behind a large pile of boxes. “My dearest Rachel! I thought I would never see you again!  Quick! We have to make a run for the ship. They will catch me, take me back.” The man rambles, and it is then that I realize, that man is the hollow shell of what used to be Aron landau. My husband. 

He looked terrible, a husk of what he used to be. He was thin, his eyes bulged almost out of his skull and he smelled ripe, like he hadn’t had a bath in a long time. I watch as he counts down then sprints through the crowd and up the ramp. “Wait!” A sailor yells at him. “I have his ticket. My husband is, eager to leave.” I tell the sailor, and they take our bags and gesture for us to go up the ramp. I look up and marvel at the huge ship before me. The vessel that will take us to freedom. “Come on Mama!” Ruth yells at me in glee before disappearing out of sight, going to explore the ship. I whisper a silent thanks, and walk onto the ship.

We have been at sea for two weeks now, and we are finally pulling into the Havana harbor. We are all being gathered at the deck for a medical check before we can all get into Cuba. But what if the doctor thinks that Aaron is too mentally disturbed to get into Cuba? What would we do if we were turned away? “Be strong, my love” I whisper to him. “Be strong like you were before.”
     “But I wasn’t,” He blubbers “I wasn’t strong. I was just lucky. It could have been me. Should have been me.” The doctor is getting closer, and just as I think he is going to blow it, Josef slaps Aaron. I am dumbfounded. Josef pulls him back into line. “Do you want the Nazi’s to catch you? Do you want them to send you back to that place?” He hisses at Aaron. 
 “I — No,” Aaron replies. 
 “That man there,“ Josef whispers, pointing at the doctor. “He’s a Nazi in disguise. He decides who lives and who dies. If you’re lucky, he won’t choose you. But if you speak, if you move, if you make even the slightest sound, he will pull you out of line. Send you back. Do you understand?”
   Aaron nods urgently, like he understands. I’m speechless. My eyes tear up. When did Josef change this much? When did he get so mature? I ignore those questions as the doctor passes in front of Aaron. He looks up, down, then moves on. We passed! We are going to get into Cuba! 
   “Well that was all a sham” Said a man standing farther down in the line. “That was no kind of medical inspection. The entire business was a charade. A giant waste of time.” That can’t be true, can it? But I start to believe it is when the doctor leaves the ship and leaves police officers guarding the ladder. The only way off the ship. “We’ve passed our medicals and we have all the right papers,” I hear a woman say to the police. “When will we be allowed into Havana?”
   “Mañana,” The policeman replies in Spanish. “Mañana.”
  “Tomorrow,” another passenger translates “Not today, tomorrow.”

Mañana. The word we have heard many times today from the police. And yesterday. And the day before. And every day for the whole week that we’ve been stuck in the Havana harbor. Every day, we asked the officers the same thing. “When will we get into Havana?” And every time they answered the same thing back. Mañana. Everyone was starting to get restless. I open a book I have been reading to relax a little, when I hear yelling outside of the room. I follow the noise to the C deck where the ladder off of the ship is, and I find the source of the commotion. A small crowd is gathered around Captain Schroeder, who is standing by the ladder. He seemed to be addressing the crowd so I attempt to push closer to him. I can barely hear him, but the few words I could hear stopped me dead in my tracks. The ship is going back to Germany, and Aaron is still in Cuba.

Monday, January 8, 2018

What connections can a book about refugees have to rights and freedoms?

Hmmm... what could a book about refugees have to do with rights...
There are many connections to rights and freedoms that can be made from a book about refugees.

Refugee laws and rights are a big problem in a lot of countries. Some economies can’t support refugees, some just don’t want to let more people into the country, and some do.

Canada is one country that does allow many refugees in. Those refugees have the same rights and freedoms that any Canadian citizen has, and those cannot be infringed upon in any way. The biggest connection to rights and freedoms in this book is Josef's journey. Jewish people in Nazi Germany had essentially no rights. A German person could do basically anything to a Jewish person and nobody would think twice. Jewish people were victims of inequality and discrimination, victims of torture in concentration camps, denied education, and were unable to marry German people, which are all part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Canada has something called the charter of rights and freedoms, which is part of the constitution of Canada. The constitution is a document that lays out the basic laws and rules of how the country operates. The charter, however, focuses on the fundamental rights and freedoms believed to be necessary for a democratic society. Canada is a place where refugees are welcomed and assisted and is a place that many refugees are going now, but that may not be the case in other countries. Refugee rights are an issue that is very real right now and are a problem that many countries are tackling now. The death count in syria is over 500,000 right now, and shows no signs of stopping. Learn more about refugees and immigration in canada at

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you next post.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

What surprised me?

What could surprise me in a book about refugees...

Honestly, there aren’t many surprising things in this book. It goes pretty much the way you would expect it to, which is to say, absolutely brutally. But it’s there that is what I’m most surprised by. It surprised me how easily the protagonists got out of their countries. You could expect that they would have had more struggles getting out of their countries, especially Mahmoud. I thought he and his family would be in more danger while attempting to get out of Syria, but they only have one run-in with soldiers on their way out. Josef and his family only have one instance where they could have been thrown off of the train because of their religion. Josef wonders if anybody would know he was Jewish if he didn’t have the bright yellow armband, so he decides to go test it. He walks into the German part of the train and buys a newspaper and a candy for his sister. His armband fell out of his pocket, and he was dragged back to the Jewish part of the train by a Hitler youth. Luckily for Josef, the Hitler youth boy let him off with a scolding and didn’t report him.`

So to recap, the thing in the novel that surprised me the most was that the protagonists were able to get out of their countries with relative ease, they didn’t come up against as much resistance as you would think. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Now what could the setting be...

There are 3 different settings in this novel, corresponding to the three different protagonists that the story rotates through. They are all places where there have been massive amounts of people forced to leave these places for their own safety. This post is meant to explain and discuss these settings, so let’s begin.

The first setting is during the 1930’s in Nazi Germany. Just in case you don’t know, Germany was once under the control of a dictator named Adolf Hitler. He did many terrible things and believed that Germans were racially superior to everyone else. Germany’s population was part Jewish then, so the nazi’s forced them to leave Germany or be forced into a concentration camp. Hitler eventually started World War Two and was defeated. That is the situation our first protagonist Josef is in. His father is put into a concentration camp, and his family is forced to get out of Germany when he is released. Jews were seen as “alien” and less than human. “On the train, Josef and his family sat in a compartment labeled J, for Jew, so no “real” Germans would sit there by accident. They were headed for Hamburg, on the north coast, where his father would meet them to board their ship” (Gratz 18). The point of this novel study is to learn about world issues, and this setting is a very good example of some of these issues.

Next is Cuba in 1994. At this time Fidel Castro was the leader of Cuba. He was elected in 1976 and was in office until 2008. He allied Cuba with the soviet union and allowed them to place nuclear weapons in Cuba, which had a part in causing the Cuban missile crisis. He was a Cuban communist revolutionary. The time that Isabel, this protagonist, is living in right now is called the “Special Period”. This was a period of economic crisis in Cuba that started in 1989 and was most likely caused by the soviet union’s dissolution. They had been giving Cuba resources while they were allied so when the soviet union was dissolved, Cuba didn’t have the agriculture or resources to support their population.

Cuba was a communist country, like Russia had been, and for decades the Soviets had been buying Cuba’s sugar for eleven times the price and sending the little island food and gasoline and medicine for free.
But when the Soviet Union went away, so did all their support. Most of the farms in Cuba grew only sugarcane. With no one to overpay for it, the cane fields dried up, the sugar refineries closed, and people lost their jobs. Without Russia’s gas, they couldn’t run the tractors to change the fields over to food, and without the extra food, the Cuban people began to starve. (Gratz 8)

Some of the big issues discussed in this book are the problem of refugees, war, and racism. Right now Syria has many refugees that are fleeing the country, and all of the nations have to decide if they are going to allow them in.

The final setting in this novel is Syria in 2015. Mahmoud, our 12-year-old protagonist, is living in Aleppo in the middle of a war between the supporters of the government and the ones who oppose them. Our protagonist is caught in the middle of this, and his family is forced to leave the city for their safety after their apartment gets bombed. They try to leave for Germany but their car is shot at and they have to walk all the way to turkey to safety. Mahmoud is just a scared kid in the middle of a war zone, hoping that he and his family can get out of the country.

Thanks for reading! Maybe you learned a thing or two.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

New novel study

I'm back this year for another novel study, this one on the book Refugee. This is the first post about this book.

I chose this novel because it tackles some very big issues in our world in the past and present like racism, genocide and the journey of a refugee. I had never heard of this book before our librarian showcased it, and I instantly knew that I wanted to use it for this study. The cover is part of the reason I wanted to read this so much. It shows a boy (Who I assume is one of the refugees) in a boat on a stormy sea, looking at the horizon, where a mountain range is visible. This shows a small snapshot of how difficult the journey is for these people. So this is a great book that I am excited to read!

This is my schedule for this book, the project ends on January 8th so I'll be posting every week>