Jack Ciambra Letter Essay #4: Refugee

Tuesday, January 2, 2018


Dear, Blog Reading Audience


Just a while ago I finished reading a historical fiction novel by Alan Gratz, called Refugee. Alan Gratz is one of the New York Times bestselling authors and has sold many of his famous copies worldwide. He has written over 14 different books for young adult readers and continues his work in North Carolina. This 350-page text is split up into three different stories, the first talks about a young Jewish boy named Josef and his attempt to escape nazi occupied Germany. The second story is about a Twelve year old Cuban girl that flees her home by boat and tries to reach America. The final chapters are about a war scarred teenager named Muhammad and how he sets off with his family to find shelter in Northern Germany. I mainly chose this novel because back in December I finished up reading Project 1065 and Prisoner B-3087 so I figured this would be a good conclusion to the other two historical books I read from in the past.


The first beginning chapters set off in the 1990s where 12 year old Isabel Fernandez is under a cruel dictatorship by Fidel Castro. Although when the Soviet Union collapsed, her home country of Cuba fell with it. Since the Soviet Union supplied Cuba with food, water and gasoline Cuba was able to sustain itself, although without all the supplies Cuba became full of starvation, riots and disease. Due to all the madness Isabel’s friend Ivan prepares to set out with his family to escape Cuba and head directly for Florida by boat. Even though it was a risky attempt knowing that the Cuban government didn’t allow any escapees and consequences would go as far as death, Isabel and her family found it worth the attempt and decided to sail along.


The second story of the book is about a 13 year old Jewish boy named Josef. After the rise of Adolf Hitler in 1933 Germany immediately became a fascist country that would soon round up all Jewish families and throw them in camps for forced labor. Although when everything takes a turn for the worst and Josef’s father ends up in captivity, his family is soon given only 48 hours to leave Germany before their dad is thrown into a death camp. In response to the ransom Josef’s mother and his little sister Ruthie plan on boarding a ferry that would soon take them all the way across the North Atlantic Ocean.


The third and final story sets off in Northern Syria in 2015 where twelve-year-old Mohamoud Bishara and his family are trapped in the crossfire of war. Mohamoud and his family live in a dreadful city called Aleppo, with bombings followed after government anarchy it is one of the most dangerous and wiped out city’s in all of Syria. Although Aleppo never use to be that way in fact it once was the most brightest and happiest places in all of the Middle East, but that was years ago, now ever since the rise of Bashar al-Assad who had been “elected” president of Syria twice and who made all people who didn’t like him disappear forever, citizens of the demolished country began to riot against the new leader in an attempt to overthrow the tyrant. In response everything ended up backfiring on the people of Syria only drawing in more war and attention to the country. Not long after the incident Mohamed’s family plans an escape route out of Syria and soon start their long trek towards Europe.


In conclusion, I really noticed how the author attempted to help the reader tie in relationships with the characters and I understood how in the end the author did an amazing job on linking all the stories together and making each character have one goal in common which was to seek refuge. If I were to rate the novel I would give it a 8/10 due to the well written ending. I would recommend this book for anyone who likes history and world events.


Sincerely, Jack Ciambra


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10 thoughts on “Jack Ciambra Letter Essay #4: Refugee

  1. Dear jack

    i would like to read this book because it reminds me of hogan heros when there in the Germany camps.But they do not escape, they make under ground tunnals . i liked how the twelve-year-old Mohamoud Bishara and his family are trapped in the crossfire of war. I think you did a very nice job on your letter essay.

  2. Jack,
    I’m interested in reading this book, and you did a good job summarizing the different plots. However, there’s not much of a Reflection in this. Use that checklist.
    Mr. Jockers

  3. Hello shack,

    Your essay I nicely written. I will consider reading this soon. I like how you give reason to your actions such as giving the book a 8/10. Keep up the good work.

    Have a jolly fine day,
    Andrew C

  4. I enjoyed this letter-essay so much, thank you for posting it. I am a middle school language arts teacher, and happened upon your blog today! I, too, have my students write “letter-essays”, and it was nice to see some fine examples here on your blog. Keep it up, everyone! I also really enjoyed reading your I’m From poems.

    1. Hi Mrs. Spengler. Thank you for visiting our blog and for leaving the positive comment. What school do you teach at? What grade? Do you or does your class have a blog?
      Mr. Jockers

  5. Dear Jack,

    You wrote this essay quite well. I like how you showed people your thoughts. I how to read your other essays that you will post on the blog. I hope to see more of your work soon..

  6. Dear Jack,

    I really liked your letter-essay and it is written really well. Keep doing what you are doing.


    Luke Vechiarelli

  7. Dear, Jack

    I really liked your letter essay and how much thought you put into it. And I am very excited to read this book. Thanks for sharing this with us. Keep us the good work.

    -Thomas D´Amaro

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