Political troubles and civil unrest force a woman and young boy to flee their war-torn country in search of a safe haven in this award-winning novel that speaks to issues that are both timely and universal.
Blaise Fortune, also known as Koumaïl, loves hearing the story of how he came to live with Gloria in the Republic of Georgia: Gloria ran to the site of a train accident where she found an injured woman who asked Gloria to take her baby. The woman, Gloria says, was French, and the baby was Blaise.
When Blaise turns seven years old, the Soviet Union collapses, and it’s then that Gloria decides she and Blaise must flee. They make their way westward on foot, heading toward France, where Gloria says they will find safe haven. During their five-year journey across the Caucasus and Europe as they encounter other refugees searching for a better life, Blaise grows from a boy into an adolescent. However, it’s only as a young man can Blaise attempt to untangle his identity.
Bondoux’s heartbreaking tale of exile, sacrifice, hope, and survival is a story of ultimate love.
“A beautifully cadenced tribute to maternal love and the power of stories amid contemporary political chaos.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
“The two [Blaise and Gloria] make a perilous, five-year journey westward through war-torn territory, encountering a memorable entourage of fellow refugees with poignant stories of their own. … Though Blaise narrates this splendidly translated novel, Gloria's voice will long resonate.”—Publishers Weekly Starred Review
“An enchanting novel that mixes grand storytelling with an unflinching look at the harsh realities of poverty.”—Junior Library Guild
"There's nothing wrong with making up stories to make life more bearable," says Gloria, the wise woman who is the soul of Bondoux's (The Killer's Tears) beautifully nuanced novel. As she and seven-year-old Kouma l flee the Republic of Georgia to escape uprisings and fighting during the Soviet Union's collapse, Gloria soothes the boy with the story of his past. She says she rescued him from a train wreck near her family's orchard after his badly injured mother "begged me with her eyes, and I understood what she expected of me." His real name, she says, is Blaise Fortune and he was born in France, where he and Gloria are headed. The two make a perilous, five-year journey westward through war-torn territory, encountering a memorable entourage of fellow refugees with poignant stories of their own. Continuously embellishing Blaise's life story, Gloria keeps hope alive for the boy, believing it is the "one and only remedy against despair." Years after their sudden, wrenching separation, a reunion brings to light the final, heartrending version of Blaise's past. Though Blaise narrates this splendidly translated novel, Gloria's voice will long resonate. Ages 12 up.
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amazing! I've read it three times! such a great story