Time of Miracles
by Bondoux, Anne-Laure; Maudet, Y. (TRN)

In the early 1990s, a boy with a mysterious past and the woman who cares for him endure a five-year journey across the war-torn Caucasus and Europe, weathering hardships and welcoming unforgettable encounters with other refugees searching for a better life.

Anne-Laure Bondoux has received numerous literary prizes in her native France. Among her previous books published by Delacorte Press isThe Killer's Tears, which received the prestigious Prix Sorcières in France and was a Mildred L. Batchelder Honor Book in the United States.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, seven-year-old Koumaïl and his guardian, Gloria, flee violent unrest and begin an arduous journey across the Caucasus toward France. That's where Koumaïl was born, according to Gloria, who describes how she found Koumaïl in the wreckage of a train accident that killed his French mother. Gloria became the boy's devoted guardian, and Koumaïl recounts their inseparable bond as they risk everything, finding shelter in forests, camps, and gypsy settlements. Bondoux, author of the multi-award-winning The Killer's Tears (2006), tells another unusual, wrenching story of a vulnerable child. Koumaïl's first-person voice shifts uneasily between a young person's naïveté and an adult's acquired wisdom: "I'm in a rush to grow up. I sense that the world in which we live is hostile to children." That may be a natural combination in an individual who has endured so much so young, though, and in potent details, Bondoux creates indelible scenes of resilient children who, like Koumaïl, find strength in painful memories: "To be less afraid of the darkness and the unknown, I call on my ghosts." Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

A refugee boy and his mother flee Georgia in 1989 and travel alone through the Caucasus for eight years to reach France. Koumaïl has always lived with Gloria, who tells him stories of rescuing him from a bombed train and stealing passports from his dead French mother. As civil war engulfs the Caucasus, they escape, moving from one refugee camp to the next, suffering hunger and illness. Along the way, Koumaïl makes friends and finds first love, supported by Gloria, who calls him her "little miracle," promises "tomorrow life will be better" and reminds him to "be happy... at all times." When they arrive in France, Gloria vanishes, leaving Koumaïl to survive alone to become a real French citizen. Koumaïl tells his story "in the right order," from the perspective of a 20-year-old refugee who ultimately discovers his true identity and that of the optimistic, resourceful woman who made "up stories to make life more bearable." A beautifully cadenced tribute to maternal love and the power of stories amid contemporary political chaos. (Historical fiction. 12 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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