an engaging sequel
Review by June Coxon
Back in 2018, Clyde Sanger wrote a book review about a novel called My Love Story in Broken English, written by local author Ainalem Tebeje. He called her book a “gem of a novel.”
This year, Tebeje published a sequel to that book – it is called The Refugee and is as equally engaging as her first book. The Refugee follows the losses and triumphs of the protagonist in the first novel, Almaz Tefera, a child bride from Siqualla, Ethiopia. Now a refugee in Canada, Almaz tells her own story as well as the stories of other refugees she meets on her journey trying to adapt alone in a strange country. She hears their often tragic, sad experiences as do readers of this novel.
The Refugee is a work of fiction and is not the story of the author’s life, although she is from Ethiopia and was a refugee. As the back cover says, the stories are inspired “by the collective story of refugee women and their journey of loss and triumph, grief and joy.” Tebeje’s descriptive writing brings them to life for us.
A refugee’s life is not an easy one. Although the archaic culture they have escaped from may have been difficult for some readers to imagine, they face other struggles after arriving in Canada. Refugees not only have to adapt to a new country and different ways of doing things and possibly learn a new language, they may also experience racism and discrimination. In spite of these very serious issues, Tebeje’s book also contains lighter moments as well as heartfelt prologues.
A book launch for The Refugee, hosted by Octopus Books, was held in June at the Glebe Community Centre, attracting a large crowd. If you want to read Clyde Sanger’s review of Tebeje’s first book, it appeared in the Glebe Report in the May 2018 issue.
June Coxon is a writer who has worked in government and the media.