No refugee's story is the same. Tani Adewumi was a cool eight-year-old boy from Nigeria who rocked at playing chess. Lopez Lomong fled Sudan and eventually became an Olympic athlete. Two Jewish brothers escaped a Nazi prison to reunite with their parents. Vinh Chung's family fled Vietnam when he was small and he went on to graduate from Harvard Medical School. Rudy Pérez was a poor Cuban refugee when he started making music—and ended up writing for artists like Beyoncé. Inspiring stuff, right?
Get ready to feast your ears on these five excellent audiobooks from the refugee perspective—four memoirs and one novel—that are sure to inspire you.
My Name is Tani ... And I Believe in Miracles by Tani Adewumi
When Tani Adewumi was eight years old, he shocked the elite world of chess players when he won the New York State Chess Championship...after only a year of playing the game! But that's only one of the miracles of his life. His family was threatened by Boko Haram, a terrorist group in West Africa, so they fled Nigeria for America. They lived in a homeless shelter while his father was a dishwasher and Uber driver and his mother cleaned buildings. But Tani used this new challenge as a fresh start.
He played chess for hours until he mastered it. And master it he did. In My Name is Tani ... And I Believe in Miracles, he shares his inspiring story of miracles and chess.
Page Chaser note: My Name is Tani... And I Believe in Miracles is our April Book of the Month! Join us in reading this inspiring book, and pick up a copy at our Amazon Store!
Running for My Life by Lopez Lomong
Lopez Lomong is a lost, barefoot boy in the wake of the Sudanese Civil War when this story begins. He climbed his way through poverty and war, never giving up on his dreams, and ultimately became a Nike-sponsored athlete on the U.S. Olympic Team for track and field. Running for My Life is his chronicle of that journey. Lomong's perseverance and ability to find hope and faith even when things appeared hopeless are an inspiration to always keep running.
Children of the Stars by Mario Escobar
It's August 1942, and two Jewish brothers are arrested in Paris. They were waiting for their parents—well-known German playwrights—to find a safe haven for them amid the Nazi occupation. They're taken to Vélodrome d’Hiver, a massive place where thousands of France's Jews are detained. But the brothers are determined, and they escape, set on a mission to find their parents and reunite their family. They meet all kinds of remarkable people on their journey, including some who pay the ultimate price for helping these young refugees on the run. Mario Escobar's novel Children of the Stars shows the light that can be found even through one of history's darkest times. Thus, this fiction book presents a fascinating twist as audiobook from the refugee perspective.
Where the Wind Leads by Vinh Chung
In Where the Wind Leads, Vinh Chung tells the tale of his family's escape from communist oppression with their eyes set on a better life in America. Chung was born in South Vietnam months after it fell to the communists in 1975 and his wealthy family swiftly lost everything—including their rice-milling empire that was worth millions. They escaped by way of boat in the South China Sea, despite hearing about the perils of those who already left and died at the hands of pirates and violent waters. The Chungs made it to America—Fort Smith, Arkansas, to be exact—and Vinh struggled against poverty and discrimination, but that didn't keep him from keeping faith and living the American dream. He went on to graduate from Harvard Medical School. Where the Wind Leads is a testimony to his parents and their strong faith in making a better life for their children.
The Latin Hit Maker by Rudy Pérez
Before Rudy Pérez was a songwriter—the creator behind some of the bestselling records of Beyoncé, Julio Iglesias, and Christina Aguilera—he was a poor refugee in Miami. He was a child in Cuba during the height of the communist revolution, and his father was in prison. Pérez's family escaped the country on one of the last Freedom Flights to America. In his memoir, The Latin Hit Maker, Pérez shares the hard times of growing up in a poverty-stricken neighborhood. He also shares the tender memories of dancing with his siblings to the sound of the stereo. Music became his rock, and with it and his strong faith, he went on to be named the most successful Latin songwriter in history. His audiobook from a refugee perspective is a classic rags-to-riches tale, full of inspiration and hope.
What are some of your favorite audiobooks from the refugee perspective?
Ashley Holstrom is a book person, designing them and writing about them for Book Riot. She lives near Chicago with her cat named after Hemingway and her bookshelves organized by color.