With the refugee crisis in the US and in Europe, I really wanted to expose my book club kids to the refugee experience, as well as expanding their horizons to people and cultures different from their own. This is a mature read, and we still have yet to discuss it. As I was reading it I kept saying, "there is a lot of bad language and violence in this book, but I feel confident that if a parent questioned me, I could confidently defend why I had chosen it as a book club book." Honestly, it should be required reading in high schools. I would probably give this to older kids, maybe 16+, or VERY mature younger teens.
Each section of the book goes back about a century, to describe the struggles of the ancestors in the previous section. It starts out with a family of refugees from Liberia and their kids, who are either first generation American, or moved to the US when they were very small. It looks at how the teen boy is struggling to find his place between the other immigrant children and the African American community at his school. The second section goes back to when Liberian colonists, descended from American slaves, enslave, murder, and otherwise terrorize the native villagers. The third section follows a family of escaped slaves who flee to Liberia in search of freedom, but find hardship and misery.
Great literary/historical fiction. I learned a LOT from this book, and I believe the teens will also. The boys will also relate to the struggles of the main characters, and the constant moral quandaries of being a teen and trying to do the right thing, but often making impulsive, hormone driven decisions.