Review of The Waiting Place: When Home Is Lost and a New One Not Yet Found

The Waiting Place: When Home Is Lost and a New One Not Yet Found The Waiting Place: When Home Is Lost and a New One Not Yet Found
by Dina Nayeri; photos by Anna Bosch Miralpeix
Intermediate, Middle School    Candlewick    64 pp.    g
5/22    978-1-5362-1362-1    $18.99
e-book ed.  978-1-5362-1854-1    $18.99

“When home is lost and a new one not yet found, children are sent to the Waiting Place.” In this powerful photo-essay, the Waiting Place is the Katsikas refugee camp in Greece, which Nayeri and ­Miralpeix visited in 2018. Katsikas is supposed to be a temporary home for refugees from Afghanistan and Iran, but as Nayeri describes in her poetic text, the camp is a “gated mouth” that children pass through and then drift while time slips away. “They forget things: first their sums, their street names, their best books. Then beloved faces, stories.” Miralpeix’s photographs effectively set the “field of shipping crates turned into homes” against a contrasting background of blue skies and misty mountains, highlighting Katsikas’s harsh conditions. Nayeri personifies the Waiting Place as a beast hungry for more lives, and the strength of the volume is its focus on real children, including five-year-old Matin from Afghanistan, his friends Ahmad and Hashmat, and his ten-year-old sister Mobina and her friends. Both text and photos compassionately humanize young refugees who, despite coping with unimaginable trauma, have talents and dreams; readers will come away with a deeper understanding of the refugee crisis, which is addressed more fully in a lengthy afterword. A glossary and an author’s note are appended.

From the May/June 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Dean Schneider

Dean Schneider teaches eighth grade English at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee.

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