A Time of Miracles by Anne-Laure Bondoux

Monday April 25, 2011

A Time of Miracles 
by Anne-Laure Bondoux
November 2010
Delacorte Press
Goodreads summary: Blaise Fortune, also known as Koumaïl, loves hearing the story of how he came to live with Gloria in the Republic of Georgia: Gloria was picking peaches in her father’s orchard when she heard a train derail. After running to the site of the accident, she found an injured woman who asked Gloria to take her baby. The woman, Gloria claims, was French, and the baby was Blaise.

When Blaise turns seven years old, the Soviet Union collapses and Gloria decides that she and Blaise must flee the political troubles and civil unrest in Georgia. The two make their way westward on foot, heading toward France, where Gloria says they will find safe haven. But what exactly is the truth about Blaise’s past?

Bits and pieces are revealed as he and Gloria endure a five-year journey across the Caucasus and Europe, weathering hardships and welcoming unforgettable encounters with other refugees searching for a better life. During this time Blaise grows from a boy into an adolescent; but only later, as a young man, can he finally attempt to untangle his identity.

Bondoux’s heartbreaking tale of exile, sacrifice, hope, and survival is a story of ultimate love.

Pontifications... Seven year old Koumail (Blaise) has always enjoyed the story of how his guardian Gloria saved him from an uncertain future when his dying mother handed him over to Gloria after she came upon the poor woman in the aftermath of a horrible train derailment.  Knowing that his mother was French and that his birth name is Blaise, Koumail hopes to one day find his birth family to fully understand his past.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Gloria and Koumail set out to France in hopes of finding the family he has no memory of and the possibility of a better life. On their journey they meet many other refugees and people who are struggling just like them. The encounters are memorable and heartwarming and balance out their times of struggle and sickness throughout their five year journey to Koumail's homeland.

The underlying story during the story of their travels are the tales that Gloria tells Koumail about his past. It seems that Gloria has a talent for embellishing stories. Her motivations behind it are loving but ultimately confusing to Koumail. A reunion at the end of the story brings to light the real truth of the boys past. 

I loved this book. A beautiful story set against war-torn Europe that follows our narrator, Koumail from a seven year old boy to a twenty year old young man. Originally written in French, the translation is flawless and the writing is exquisite.....like I said, LOVED IT!

Best suited for grades 7 and up