Celia Barker Lottridge's novel, Home is Beyond the Mountains, tells the story of Samira and her family who must leave their village in 1918 because of the war that is happening around them. While on their journey to safety Samira and her mother are separated from the rest of her family, and by the time they reach a home for refugees, only Samira is still alive. She is excited to find her older brother Benjamin who has made it there as well, but who must tell her that their father is no longer living, either. The two children spend several years in an orphanage with many other children who have been affected by the Turks attacking their people. At the orphanage they are taken care of by Susan Shedd, an amazing woman who has the goal of helping these children return to their villages in what will be a long and arduous journey.
While this book is a novel, it felt like a true story to me. Much of it is based on facts, and Lottridge's own aunt, Susan Shedd, is a central character in this novel. Much of this story is based on recollections Lottridge collected from her aunt about this period in time and her role in history.
As the orphans make their way home, organized in small units that work as a family, they are forced to determine where "home" really is and what constitutes a family.
This was an amazing book, full of suspense as I waited and hoped for these children to find happiness and family when they returned home. The struggles Samira and Benjamin went through nearly a hundred years ago are still challenges faced by many countries at war with displaced families and children.
Although I did not know anything about the Turkish invasion of Persia, Lottridge was able to write about this time period in such a way that previous knowledge was not a necessity.
This is a hopeful story, highly recommended for YA readers or history lovers.