Finalist for the IODE Violet Downey Book Award
Samira is only nine years old when the Turkish army invades northwestern Persia in 1918, and she and her parents, brother and baby sister are driven from their tiny village. Taking only what they can carry, they flee into the mountains, but the journey is so difficult that only Samira and her older brother, Benyamin, survive. When Samira finally arrives in a refugee camp, it is her friendship with another orphan, Anna, that pulls her out of her sadness. And when the two girls are given a toddler named Elias to care for, they form a new kind of family.
Over the years the children are shunted from one refugee camp to another, from Persia to Iraq and back again, and finally end up in an orphanage, where it seems that they will live out their childhood. Then a new orphanage director arrives -- Susan Shedd, a woman whose authority and energy Samira has never seen before.
And Samira’s respect turns to amazement when Miss Shedd decides that she will take the three hundred children back to their home villages to make new lives for themselves. It will be a journey of three hundred miles, through the mountains, and it will be made on foot.
Based on the experiences of the author’s aunt, the story tells the horrific history of the Assyrian and Armenian refugees through indelible specifics... - Hazel Rochman, Booklist
[A] triumphant story. - Kathleen Isaacs, School Library Journal
My top pick for an all-engrossing new novel... - Deirdre Baker, Toronto Star
Samira's heart was heavy. She wanted to get over those mountains, too, but she was afraid. For Elias and the other little children, she told herself. But really she knew. ... It was for herself she was afraid.
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