Finalist for the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award
Orphaned and plagued with the grief of losing everyone he loves, fifteen-year-old Abdul has made a long, fraught journey from his war-torn home in Baghdad, only to end up in The Jungle -- the squalid, makeshift migrant community in Calais.
When an altercation at the soup kitchen ends up with him accidently stabbing a policeman, Abdul has to flee, and in desperation he takes a spot in a small boat heading to England. A sudden skirmish leaves the boat stalled in the middle of the Channel, the pilot dead, and four young people remaining -- Abdul; Rosalia, a Romani girl who has escaped from the white slave trade; Cheslav, gone AWOL from a Russian military school; and Jonah, the boat pilot's ten-year-old nephew.
The four of them end up hijacking a yacht and, despite their fear and mistrust, they form a kind of makeshift family. And as the authorities close in on them, they find refuge in an unusual place -- a child's secret cave on the English coast.
Deborah Ellis is a member of the Order of Canada. She has won the University of California’s Middle East Book Award, Sweden’s Peter Pan Prize, the Governor General’s Award, and the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. She is best known for her Breadwinner series, which has been published in twenty-five languages, with $2 million in royalties donated to Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan and Street Kids International. deborahellis.com
Flashbacks to each character's personal story are interwoven with the present-tense violence, prejudice, kindness, and community that the young characters find on their journey.
Flashbacks involving the effects of war and poverty on communities and families drive this fast-paced and heart-wrenching narrative, which deals honestly with countless harsh realities.
This novel moves fast and furiously...exciting and moving.
What the best literature for young readers can be-simple, elegant language crafted to tell a story as full and rich as life itself. Eminently memorable.
Ellis' young readers love her because she speaks to them as intelligent, empathetic beings who will soon have agency in the world, and in No Safe Place, this gift is still powerfully evident.