In Search of Safety – Book Recommendation

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Title: In Search of Safety, Voices of Refugees

Author and Photographer: Susan Kuklin

 Publisher: Candlewick Press, May 2020

Ages: 13+

Themes: war, refugees, re-settlement, USA, slavery, violence, Nebraska


Fraidoon: “From 1984, when I was born, until July 16, 2017, when I arrived in the United States, I never lived in a place where there was no war.”


Five refugees recount their courageous journeys to America — and the unimaginable struggles that led them to flee their homelands.

An Iraqi woman who survived capture by ISIS. A Sudanese teen growing up in civil war and famine. An Afghan interpreter for the U.S. Army living under threat of a fatwa. They are among the five refugees who share their stories. The five, originally from Afghanistan, Myanmar, South Sudan, Iraq, and Burundi, give gripping first-person testimonies about what it is like to flee war, face violent threats, grow up in a refugee camp, be sold into slavery, and resettle in America.

Why I like this book:

A moving powerfully crafted book to help young people and adults better understand the devastating impact of war and persecution, pertinent to our modern day tensions and need to welcome and support refugees.

Each individual or family faces similar fears and hopes on starting their new life in the US. These emotions are palpable through the interviews and reading these stories had me cheering for every little success these survivors sustain as well as feeling for their ongoing pain through loss and adjustments. Inevitably their experiences are wildly different and we are permitted a glimpse into what sort of support needs to be in place and how often it is lacking. Often it is unpaid local volunteers who pick up much of the care.

As an anglophone immigrant with a handful of friends already when I arrived, the awareness of my good fortune and privilege was heightened reading these stories. The brutality of what these people have endured and their tenacity in making a new life froim nothing in a vastly different culture highlights our need for increased compassion and resources to meet these peoples’ needs.

Kuklin chose well to limit her focus to the lives of very different refugees having fled five very different countries but all of whom ended up in one place, Nebraska. Their pasts are unimaginable; their courage amazing. Each story is an inspiration and a call for us to be more involved in the world wide refugee crisis. This is a strong addition to the books I have added to our school library for our teachers’ units on refugees. I was a fan of the author after reading Beyond Magenta (also purchased for our library) and am an even greater one now.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.


Included in the end matter are chapter notes, information on resettlement and U.S. citizenship, historical time lines of war and political strife in the refugees’ countries of origin, resources for further reading, and an index.

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3 Responses to In Search of Safety – Book Recommendation

  1. wow, Joanna! This sounds like a great book! I’ll be sure to recommend it to our school librarian. And I think I’ll see if the SFPL has any copies and suggest it if they don’t. Thanks for the rec!

  2. Jilanne Hoffmann says:

    I see, though, that the pub date isn’t until May 2020, so the SFPL may kick my suggestion back to me. They don’t accept suggestions for books with pub dates further than two months out. We’ll see….

    • Joanna Marple says:

      Oh, yes, I should have mentioned that this was an ARC and is publishing soon. I also have to wait to suggest books at my local library to near their pub date.

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