Refugee Questions and Answers
by Alan Gratz

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What is the resolution for Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud in Refugee?

The resolution for Josef, unfortunately, is death after his family fails to make it to Cuba and ends up in France. For Isabel, the resolution is arriving in Miami and receiving a new trumpet. For Mahmoud, resolution involves arriving in Germany, receiving asylum, and becoming part of a host family who are kind and promise to help their guests.

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Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud all endure hellish ordeals as a result of the need to leave their home country and seek safety elsewhere.

For the young Jewish boy Josef, this involves escaping from Germany in the aftermath of Hitler's rise to power. His father, who had been arrested during the events of Kristallnacht, was allowed to leave the concentration camp on the condition that he left Germany immediately. The family headed to Cuba, but after a series of misadventures, they end up in France. Sadly, Josef does not survive his family's ordeal.

For Isabel, her "refugee" status comes about as a result of her family needing to flee Cuba after Fidel Castro's rise to power. Isabel and her family manage to secure passage on a boat which gets riddled by bullets as they depart for Miami. After much trauma at sea, Isabel and her family arrive in Miami and are able to settle and get on their feet. Isabel gets a new trumpet to replace the one that she had to trade for her family's passage on the boat out of Cuba.

Mahmoud's story involves needing to escape from Syria. While the family has been living in a state of civil war for four years, the bombing of their apartment provides them with impetus to leave, and try to gain refugee status in Germany. After many trials and tribulations, in a car, on foot, aboard a flimsy dinghy, and in a Hungarian refugee camp, Mahmoud and his family eventually reach Germany and are granted asylum.

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