Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 9 to 13
- Grade: 4 to 8
- Reading age: 9 to 13
Thirteen-year-old Rabia, along with her mother and younger brother, flee Afghanistan and the brutal Taliban for Pakistan. Relocating to North America, their flight falls on the fateful morning of 9/11. After the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, their plane is diverted to Gander, Newfoundland. Also on the plane is an American boy named Colin, who struggles with his prejudices against Rabia and her family. The people in the small community of Gander, including teens Jason and Leah, open their hearts and their homes to the stranded passengers, volunteering to billet the hundreds of unexpected visitors to the island. Their kindness might be the bridge to understanding and acceptance that Colin and Rabia need.
About the author
Alice Walsh was born and raised in Newfoundland, Canada. An alumnus of St. Mary’s University and Acadia University, Walsh has degrees in both English and criminology, and a master’s degree in English literature with a focus on children’s literature. She is the award- winning author of several children’s books and young adult novels, including Pomiuk, Prince of the North, A Sky Black with Crows, and her latest book, A Long Way from Home. Walsh has received the Canadian Children’s Book Centre “Our Choice” Award, the Ann Connor Brimer Book Award, and was shortlisted for the Hackmatack Children's Choice Book Award. A former preschool teacher, probation officer, and creative writing instructor, Walsh currently lives and writes in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia.
- Short-listed, Hackmatack Children's Choice Book Award
A Long Way From Home is a good story and a fine addition to the growing collection of September 11 novels.
Walsh has created real characters, places and situations that are all reachable and believable by the reader. Her tone and development of plot illustrate care and kindness and will attract empathetic readers. I would highly recommend this book to young readers, and to many classroom teachers for it's many cross-curricular links and for it's historical subject matter.
Alice Walsh’s A Long Way from Home is a compassionately told novel that straddles the line between children’s and young adult fiction, and the story it tells will appeal to younger and older audiences alike.
NewPages Book Reviews
… Walsh reminds us through her characters that with empathy and a willingness to listen, understanding and friendship can blossom, despite differences of culture and background.
The Chronic Herald
I liked this story because it was fictional but at the same time it was based on true events. I had no idea how hard it is to live in Afghanistan with the Taliban rule, especially for women and girls. I knew the Taliban had cruel ways but did not know they would wipe out whole families if they felt like it. The characters were all interesting and imaginable. This book would work for both boys and girls. I would say the reader should be at least twelve years old to read it. Any teen that likes fictional novel but also has an interest for world issues would enjoy this book!
Kid's Picks, Book Reviews By Young Readers, Canadian Teacher Magazine
I found A Long Way From Home, by Canadian Alice Walsh, to be a very powerful and well-written novel.
The National Post
Part refugee story, part 9/11 remembrance, this is a welcome addition to a small shelf.
A Long Way From HomeAn Afghan girl, an American boy, and the resilient residents of a small town are thrown together when dozens of planes are grounded in Gander, Newfoundland after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. In the middle of tragedy they find unexpected kindness, friendship, and hope.
Students often need narratives to help them understand traumatic world events. In this novel, the 9/11 crisis is experienced through the lives of an Afghan girl and an American boy. Terrorist attacks may seem incomprehensible, but readers can sympathize and try to understand the essential need to be resilient when such horrifying events unfold. Set in Gander, Newfoundland, this novel will be useful to help students understand Canada’s part in the tragedy that took place before they were born.
Source: Association of Canadian Publishers. Top Grade Selection 2016.