Inspired by her grandparents’ flight from Russia and Ukraine, author Kuklin (We Are Here to Stay, 2019) puts a human face on the plight of refugees through the stories of five migrants who have come to live in the United States after fleeing war, violence, and slavery.
Using their own words, with occasional authorial interjections to give context, the refugees, originally from Afghanistan, Myanmar, South Sudan, Iraq, and Burundi, give their moving and often harrowing descriptions of life in their native countries (Yazidi Shireen’s account of her abduction by ISIS is particularly raw and upsetting) along with the long and frustrating process required to become a refugee in the US. Resettled into Nebraska, the refugees and their families show resilience, optimism, and grit as they face the challenges of a new and unfamiliar country and the book includes many joyful photographs of the refugees in their new homes.
Backmatter is determinedly apolitical with information about the refugee process, extensive notes, timelines, further resources, and information about the Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska resettlement agency (which put the author in touch with her interviewees), but does not mention the Trump administration’s “travel ban” on immigrants from 13 countries, nor the reduction in the US refugee ceiling to a low of 30,000 in 2019.
Thanks to Candlewick for the ARC.