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“What Strange Paradise” by Omar El Akkad

A beautifully written, dramatic and moving novel that brings the global refugee crisis down to the level of a child’s eyes. Amir, a 9-year-old Syrian boy who survived the sinking of the ship carrying refugees, washes up on a small island.  He has the good fortune to fall into the hands not of the officials, but of Vänna: a teenage girl, who lives inside her own sense of homelessness.  And though Vänna and Amir are strangers and don’t speak a common language, Vänna determines to do whatever it takes to save him. In alternating chapters, we learn the story of Amir’s life and of how he came to be on the boat; and we follow the duo as they make their way towards a vision of safety

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