Summary and book reviews of No Safe Place by Deborah Ellis

No Safe Place

By Deborah Ellis

No Safe Place
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  • Hardcover: Aug 2010,
    224 pages.
    Paperback: Sep 2011,
    208 pages.

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Book Summary

Orphaned and plagued with the grief of losing everyone he loves, 15-year-old Abdul has made a long, fraught journey from his war-torn home in Baghdad, only to end up in The Jungle - a squalid, makeshift migrant community in Calais.

Desperate to escape, he takes a spot in a small, overloaded England-bound boat that’s full of other illegal migrants - and a secret stash of heroin. A sudden skirmish leaves the boat stalled in the middle of the Channel, the pilot dead, and four young people remaining - Abdul; Rosalia, a Romani girl who has escaped from the white slave trade; Cheslav, gone AWOL from a Russian military school; and Jonah, the boat pilot's ten-year-old nephew. As they attempt to complete the frantic and hazardous Channel crossing their individual stories are revealed and their futures become increasingly uncertain.

No Safe Place is a novel of high adventure and heart-stopping suspense by a writer at the height of her powers.

Excerpted from Chapter One

“How much?”

“Does it matter? It’s more than you’ve got.”

“You don’t know how much I’ve got.”

“I can smell you. Your stink tells the whole story.”

Abdul clenched his toes inside his torn sneakers. It helped him control his temper.

At least my stink is honest, he thought, from months of hard travel and living rough. He wondered what the smuggler’s excuse was.

“I’ll owe you the rest,” Abdul said. The smuggler scratched himself in places that weren’t supposed to be scratched in public. He exhaled cigarette smoke into Abdul’s face.

“Don’t like dirty Arabs.”

“I’m Kurdish,” Abdul said, then wanted to snatch the words back. He’d just played into the man’s prejudice. Should he say that he was part Arab, his mother’s family from Baghdad? Why bother.

“I’m sixteen,” he said instead, lying just a little. &...

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Reviews

BookBrowse

No Safe Place is my favorite kind of book: one that brings seemingly different characters together and shows that, lo and behold, they are not so different after all. One that illuminates the connections that the characters have, and that, ultimately, we all have.   (Reviewed by Tamara Smith).

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Media Reviews
Booklist

Ellis attempts a great deal for one short book, but she makes even the multiple coincidences work, and there is no sentimentality. ...The spare narrative celebrates the power of community to overcome the worst. Grades 7-10.

School Library Journal

Starred Review. Orphans of the world and victims of human trafficking need all the press they can get, and this book does a great job of introducing the topic and allowing young people to see beyond the headlines. Ages 9+

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. What the best literature for young readers can be - simple, elegant language crafted to tell a story as full and rich as life itself. Eminently memorable.

Reader Reviews
Louise J

Couldn't Put It Down!
Abdul is a Kurdish refugee from Iraq who at fifteen-years of age has lost everyone in his family through the war and terror that has plagued his homeland. He meets a boy is own age and they become fast friends, both enjoying playing guitar and ...   Read More

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Deborah Ellis

Deborah EllisDeborah Ellis has been all over the world. And she hasn't just visited places, she's done things. Big things. She went to Pakistan to help at an Afghan Refugee Camp; she went to Israel and the Ghaza Strip to talk with Israeli and Palestinian children; and she went to Malawi and Tanzania to spend time with children orphaned by AIDS. Deborah has written books that draw on each of these experiences - some fiction and some non-fiction - and at the heart of her work is her deep passion for peace and her unwavering support of children.

She says it best: "It has been a real privilege for me to sit with people in many parts of the world and learn how their lives have been drastically altered by war or disease, and how they try to ...

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