The best books about asylum seekers

Many authors have picked their favorite books about asylum seekers and why they recommend each book.

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The Crossing

By Manjeet Mann,

Book cover of The Crossing

The Crossing really moved me. It’s an unforgettable story of two young people who suffer extreme trauma and struggle to find their way to a better future. Nat is in England, her mother has died, and in her honour Nat sets herself the task of raising money for refugees by swimming the Channel. Sammy, in Eritrea, has witnessed the political murder of his father and is soon to be drafted into the army, where he knows he will be tortured. I love the way the author weaves their first-person stories together, till we feel the two must meet. Sammy’s desperate journey, with its horrors, hunger, despair, and unimaginable hardship, is particularly graphically told.

I found this story of bravery shocking and frightening, but not without hope.


Who am I?

My maternal great-grandparents were Irish immigrants. My paternal grandfather left Liverpool in the late 19th century to go to Australia. I’d love to know their children’s stories! Some of the families I visited as a social worker (mid-1960s) were immigrants, struggling to make sense of a new language and a new culture. I met a child who had come here alone as an illegal immigrant and had been a house slave until the social services settled her with a foster family. I met author Hanna Jansen and her many adopted children from war-torn countries. Fiction gives us many powerful stories about children forced to flee from their homes because of war, tyranny, hunger, poverty, natural disasters.


I wrote...

The Girl Who Saw Lions

By Berlie Doherty,

Book cover of The Girl Who Saw Lions

What is my book about?

"Be strong, my Abela." These are the last words of Abela's mother in their HIV/Aids stricken African village, where it seems that to live or to die, to be sick or to be healthy, is just a matter of chance. It takes all 8-year-old Abela's strength to survive her Uncle Thomas's scheming to get her to London, where she becomes a house slave. but what will be her fate as an illegal immigrant? Abela’s story is interwoven with that of 13-year-old Rosa, in England, who is jealous and unhappy when her mother tells her she wants to adopt an orphan.

 … this latest Doherty title is a heartbreaking yet ultimately hopeful examination of HIV/Aids, child trafficking, and adoption. (Season Highlight) ― The Bookseller

Over a Thousand Hills I Walk With You

By Hanna Jansen,

Book cover of Over a Thousand Hills I Walk With You

This is a beautifully written account of how 8-year-old Jeanne d'Arc Umubyeyi (Dédé) escaped the 1994 massacre of the Tutsi ethnic group at the hands of the Huti tribe. Jeanne was the only member of her family to survive. The horror of what she went through is vividly recounted in Jeanne’s words and those of her adoptive mother Hanna Jansen, who adopted her and brought her to Germany. 

It is a very powerful, true, story. I had heard of the Rwandan massacre, but knew little about it till I read this novel. 

I love the book and have re-read it several times. Young adults will identify strongly with both Jeanne and Hanna.


Who am I?

My maternal great-grandparents were Irish immigrants. My paternal grandfather left Liverpool in the late 19th century to go to Australia. I’d love to know their children’s stories! Some of the families I visited as a social worker (mid-1960s) were immigrants, struggling to make sense of a new language and a new culture. I met a child who had come here alone as an illegal immigrant and had been a house slave until the social services settled her with a foster family. I met author Hanna Jansen and her many adopted children from war-torn countries. Fiction gives us many powerful stories about children forced to flee from their homes because of war, tyranny, hunger, poverty, natural disasters.


I wrote...

The Girl Who Saw Lions

By Berlie Doherty,

Book cover of The Girl Who Saw Lions

What is my book about?

"Be strong, my Abela." These are the last words of Abela's mother in their HIV/Aids stricken African village, where it seems that to live or to die, to be sick or to be healthy, is just a matter of chance. It takes all 8-year-old Abela's strength to survive her Uncle Thomas's scheming to get her to London, where she becomes a house slave. but what will be her fate as an illegal immigrant? Abela’s story is interwoven with that of 13-year-old Rosa, in England, who is jealous and unhappy when her mother tells her she wants to adopt an orphan.

 … this latest Doherty title is a heartbreaking yet ultimately hopeful examination of HIV/Aids, child trafficking, and adoption. (Season Highlight) ― The Bookseller

Bookshelves related to asylum seekers