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Three different kids.

One mission in common: ESCAPE.

Josef is a Jewish boy in 1930s Nazi Germany. With the threat of concentration camps looming, he and his family board a ship bound for the other side of the world…

Isabel is a Cuban girl in 1994. With riots and unrest plaguing her country, she and her family set out on a raft, hoping to find safety and freedom in America…

Mahmoud is a Syrian boy in 2015. With his homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he and his family begin a long trek toward Europe…

All three young people will go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. All will face unimaginable dangers–from drownings to bombings to betrayals. But for each of them, there is always the hope of tomorrow. And although Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are separated by continents and decades, surprising connections will tie their stories together in the end.

Scholastic | July 25, 2017 | Ages 8 and Up

A #1 New York Times bestseller!

Book Trailer


Gratz accomplishes a feat that is nothing short of brilliant…Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense.


Filled with both tragic loss and ample evidence of resilience, these memorable and tightly plotted stories contextualize and give voice to current refugee crises…

—Publisher's Weekly - STARRED REVIEW

Exceptional readers Michael Goldstrom, Kyla Garcia, and Assaf Cohen tackle Gratz’s compelling novel

—Booklist Audio - STARRED REVIEW

The audio version provides an ideal (even mandatory) opportunity for libraries to share these resonating tales with readers reluctant to pick up the page.

—School Library Journal Audiobooks - STARRED REVIEW

A stunning, poignant novel about the plight of refugees… Grade A.

—Entertainment Weekly

This compelling novel will help young people make sense of today’s refugee crisis. Meant to be read, discussed, and shared widely.

—School Library Journal

Some novels are engaging and some novels are important. Refugee is both.

—Ruta Sepetys, author of Between Shades of Gray

A gripping, visceral, and hold-your-breath intense story of three young refugees.

—John Green

This dude does his history homework and then hides it in a total page-turner. This is the beets in a brownie of kid lit.

—Tablet Magazine

An intelligent, human, harrowing read.

—Ellen Silva, NPR

Gratz’s stirring novel humanizes the plight of refugees worldwide.

—Horn Book

Fast paced, insightful, filled with drama and tension.

—Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A heartrending and important tale for our time…

—The Buffalo News

Young readers will finish this book and ask: What should we do?

—Shelf Awareness Pro

A haunting fictional treatment of historic events.


Impossible odds and families in peril make for vivid and unrelenting suspense in these stories of flight and daring. This heart-stopping novel is not only compelling— it is necessary.

—Judy Blundell, National Book Award winning author of What I Saw and How I Lied

With urgent, clear-eyed storytelling, Gratz’s Refugee compellingly explores the desperation and strength that unites those struggling for a place to call home.

—Eliot Schrefer, two-time National Book Award finalist

An incredibly important, heartrending, edge-of-the-seat read, bringing light to the plight of immigrants who search for safety and freedom.

—Pam Muñoz Ryan, author of Echo and Esperanza Rising

Full of struggle, heroism, and non-stop adventure, Refugee is not only an important book, it’s a terrific story.

—Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, Newbery Honor winning author of The War That Saved My Life

Powerful and compelling. Refugee is more than a story about children fleeing their homelands, it is a story about what unites us all… love, family and perseverance.

—Christina Diaz Gonzalez, author of The Red Umbrella and A Thunderous Whisper

Refugee looks readers straight in the eye, challenging them to truly see these kids who are battling the worst moments of our recent history.

—Margaret Neville, The King's English Bookstore


2018 Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Older Readers

2018 National Jewish Book Award Winner for Young Adults

New York Times Notable Middle Grade Children’s Book 2017

2018 YALSA Quick Pick for Young Readers

YALSA 2018 Best Fiction for Young Adults

2017 Cybils Middle Grade Fiction Award Winner

2018 Judy Lopez Memorial Award Winner

2018 Indies Choice/E.B. White Read-Aloud Award Finalist

2018 NCTE Charlotte Huck Outstanding Fiction for Children Honor Book

2017 Malka Penn Award for Human Rights in Children’s Literature Honor Book

Global Read Aloud Book 2018

2018 Notable Book for a Global Society

Kirkus Reviews Best Middle Grade Historical Books of 2017

Publishers Weekly Best Middle Grade Books of 2017

NPR’s Book Concierge Great Reads of 2017

Southern Living Best Children’s Books of 2017

Publishers Weekly Best Audiobooks of 2017

School Library Journal Top Ten Audio Books of 2017

Booklist Editors’ Choice: Top 10 Audio for Youth 2017

Audible Best Kids’ Audiobooks of 2017 – Finalist

Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Books Best Books of 2017

New York Public Library Top 100 Best Books for Kids 2017

Chicago Public Library Kids Best Fiction for Older Readers 2017

Amazon Top 20 Best Children’s Books of 2017

ABC Best Books for Young Readers 2017

2018 Southern Book Prize Finalist

Junior Library Guild Selection

USA Today bestseller


2019 Oklahoma Sequoyah Intermediate Book Award Winner

2018-2019 Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Grade 6-8 Winner

2018-2019 Maine Student Book Award Winner

2018-2019 Vermont Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award Winner

2019 North Carolina Children’s Book Award Winner

2018-2019 Lectio Book Award Winner

2019 North Dakota Flicker Tale Book Award Winner

2020 Illinois Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award Winner

2020 Wisconsin Golden Archer Medal Winner

2019-2020 Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice Awards Honor Book

2020 Arizona Grand Canyon Reader Award Winner

2019-2020 Tennessee Volunteer State Book Award Winner

2019-2020 Indiana Young Hoosier Book Award Winner

2020 California Young Reader Book Award Winner

2019-2020 Minnesota Maud Hart Lovelace Award Winner

2020 Hong Kong Golden Dragon Honor Award

2022 Buxtehuder Bulle Winner


2018 Texas Lone Star Reading List

2018-2019 Texas Bluebonnet Award Nominee

2018 Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award Nominee

2019 Utah Beehive Award Nominee

2018-2019 Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Book Award Nominee

2019 Sakura Medal Shortlist

2020 Nebraska Golden Sower Award Finalist

2020 New Jersey Garden State Teen Book Award Nominee

2020 Washington State Sasquatch Book Award Nominee

2019 Hampshire (England) Book Award Finalist

2020 Iowa Teen Book Award Masterlist

2020 Colorado Children’s Choice Book Award Masterlist

2020 Hong Kong Battle of the Books List

2020 Pacific Northwest Young Reader’s Choice Award Masterlist

2020 New Hampshire Isinglass Teen Read Award Masterlist

2021 German Youth Literature Award Nominee