Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Children of Exile Audio

Children of Exile Audio

Margaret Peterson Haddix
Fiction
For ages 9 to 12
Unabridged audiobook (Digital)
Recorded Books, 2016 

Rosi has always known that the Freds she lives with, Fred-mama and Fred-daddy, are not her real parents. They are her guardians who have cared for her since she was brought to Fredtown when she was an infant. The Freds have always told her and the other children in Fredtown that they were brought there because it was too “dangerous” for the children to stay with their parents. Even though the children in Fredtown know that they have parents somewhere, they are shocked when they are suddenly told that they are going to be sent home.

For all the children, Fredtown is the only home that they have ever know. For the eldest of the children, Rosi and Edwy, Fredtown has been their home for twelve years and the idea of leaving is frightening. They have had such peaceful and happy childhoods, and have been cared for with so much love and compassion. The children have always been treated with kindness and respect by the Freds, and have been taught that they should never be cruel, violent, or judgmental.

The leave taking, when that time comes, is very hard for Rosi. It is even harder for her five-year-old brother Bobo. In fact, all the small children and infants have a hard time. The terrible thing is that the adults on the plane don’t seem to care at all that the children are distressed and afraid. They are callous and indifferent, and even cruel at times. They are nothing like the Freds who cared for the children in Fredtown. It is up to Rosi and Edwy to do what they can to comfort the little ones, and to make sure that they get something to eat.

What is already a difficult situation only gets worse when the children arrive at their destination. The parents mob the plane, terrifying their children. They don’t seem to understand at all that the children need to be treated with care and sensitivity. They should not be dragged off the plane screaming and crying with fear. Rosi does her best to protect her little brother from the adults who are shouting, pushing, and shoving, and eventually her mother finds them. Rosi’s mother does not seem to understand at all how frightened Bobo is, and she is cold towards Rosi. It is as if the adults have no idea how to treat children at all.

Rosi and Bobo always had a comfortable home to live in, and their guardians clearly loved them both, so her new home shocks her. It is a very shabby and mean place, and both her parents seem perpetually angry, fearful, and grumpy. Rosi does her best to please and placate them, but nothing she does seems to make them like her.

As she explores her new home, Rosi notices that many of the people are handicapped like her father, or scarred by some terrible injury like her mother. Something must have happened to cause so many injuries but she has no idea what that something was.

Rosie also notices that the people who have brown eyes and the people who have green eyes appear to hate each other. When adults with brown eyes see Rosi’s green eyes they behave as if she is their enemy, which she does not understand at all. In Fredtown so one was singled out for persecution in this way. No one was picked on because of their eye color, or anything else for that matter.

All the adults seem to be hiding something, and both Rosi and Edwy wish they knew what was being kept from them. They want to know why they were taken away in the first place, and why they have now been brought back. Why would the Freds send them to place that is so awful? None of it makes sense.

This gripping audio title will capture listeners’ attention from the first moment of the narrative to the last. Nothing is quite what it seems, and we cannot help but feel sorry for Rosi and the other children, who have no idea what is going on, and what is going to happen next. We cannot help admiring Rosi as she does her best to protect her little brother, and as she tries to hold on to the lessons that the Freds taught her.

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