Author:  Anne-Laure Bondoux
ISBN:  978-0-385-73922-1

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Let me begin by saying that this is one of the most intricate, mesmerizing novels I've read in a long, long time.  The quality of young adult writing has been far outshining the world of adult novels recently...and, this is no exception.
 
Blaise Fortune, a citizen of the French Republic, is hiding in the back of a truck when customs officials come upon him.  He wants nothing more than to return to his birthplace of Mont-Saint-Michel to find his mother.  Unfortunately, he can't explain this to the men because he can not speak their language.  
 
Blaise has been through a great deal in his young life.  The one story that has remained a constant, is when a woman named Gloria told him of how he came into her world.  Gloria was a young woman working hard in her father's orchard located in the Republic of Georgia.  While picking peaches one day, she heard the thunderous, frightening crash of a train derailing close by.  Frantically, she races to the accident site and finds a French woman badly injured who begs Gloria to take her baby and keep him safe.  For many heartfelt reasons, Gloria takes on Blaise as her own son and cares for him as he ages.  But when
the Soviet Union collapses all around them, Gloria decides to run from the deadly politics and the civil uprising that is slowly taking over the land.  They head to France where Gloria claims that they will be safe no matter what.  And while traveling to this new safe haven, information is uncovered that Blaise can barely believe.

 
For five years they tread slowly across the Caucasus putting up with horrible hardships, and learning more and more about other refugees and their circumstances in the troubled times.  Readers will be astounded as Blaise grows into a young man and fights with all aspects of his identity.  The stories that've been told to him over the years mix together in his mind like an intricate puzzle that he simply can't decipher.
 
As a single parent, who truly feels as if my daughter is the most important creature in the world to me, the bond between parent and child in this book hit a chord deep in my own heart.  I certainly have never gone through the pain and brutality that young Blaise and Gloria had to put up with, but my daughter and I have traveled all across the United States - journeying into the unknown - searching for a new home...new hope...and a new adventure.
 
Ms. Bondoux's writing is truly powerful and an unforgettable look at love, sacrifice, and hope.  Enjoy!
 

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