Kathleen March’s Nowhere Boy is the story of the unlikely friendship between two teenage boys from totally different worlds. Alone and undocumented in Brussels, Belgium, fourteen-year-old Syrian refugee Ahmed has lost his mother and sisters during the bombing of his hometown of Aleppo and has been separated from his father by an accident at sea. Thirteen-year-old Max, a friendless and underachieving American teenager, has recently moved to Brussels with his family. Discovering Ahmed hiding in the basement of his home, Max devotes himself to protecting his new friend from discovery and deportation. With Max as his guide, Ahmed is temporarily able to pass for a documented immigrant, allowing the two boys to attend school and explore the city together. After a terrorist alert in Brussels places all immigrants under increased suspicion, Max and Ahmed set out on a daring journey from Belgium to Hungary where Ahmed’s father is being held in a refugee camp, the local police and immigration authorities in hot pursuit. With the chapters alternating between each boy’s perspective, voice actor Jeremy Arthur delivers the narrative in a straightforward, unaffected manner that perfectly matches the caution and restraint with which Ahmed and Max share their stories and their lives with one another. Nowhere Boy is both a compelling description of the harsh realities faced by refugees today and a moving testament to the power of friendship, cooperation, and self-sacrifice. As the narrator reflects toward the end of the tale: “One story couldn’t change the world, just like one person couldn’t. But two?”
David Shirley ©2019 Parents’ Choice
David Shirley’s recent nonfiction titles include A History of Brooklyn Bridge Park and Fix It Leroy! His YA biographies, Every Day I Sing the Blues: The Story of B. B. King and Satchel Paige: Baseball Legend were honored as the New York Public Library’s Best Books for Teens.