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Nowhere Boy: 05/06/19

Nowhere Boy

Nowhere Boy by Katherine Marsh is a contemporary middle grade novel set primarily in Brussels. It's told in alternating points of view: Ahmed's and Mike's. Ahmed has escaped from Syria with his father only to be separated and forced to go on his own where he eventually ends up in Brussels. Mike is an American now living in Brussels because his parents have moved there for work.

The intersection of these two plots is the house Mike's family is renting. Ahmed has found a way into the basement which has been converted to include a bathroom, a couch to sleep on, and it's close to the kitchen by way of a short flight of stairs.

Early one I expected the two boys' stories to stay separate minus the shared space. Mike though does discover Ahmed and they become friends. While Ahmed is technically in Belgium illegally, Mike takes the necessary risks to help him: getting him into school, getting him an ID, and ultimately helping him find his father.

Now although this novel is set in Europe, the author is American, and it uses elements of the road narrative to fit into the spectrum. For the traveler piece, Ahmed and Mike for their collaboration, fit into the marginalized traveler status (66). Ahmed is marginalized as a refugee separated from his father. Mike is marginalized as a visa holder who doesn't speak anything beyond English. The destination throughout the book is home (66). First it's the house that the two are sharing, and later it is in the journey for a reunion. The journey to the reunion is done via train, which like the interstate is the most straightforward, safest way to travel (00). Of course traveling without parents, with little in the way of language, and with dubious IDs, adds danger to the route.

All together, this novel in terms of the road narrative spectrum is a tale of marginalized travelers taking a railroad to find home.

Four stars

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