Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Time of Miracles by Anne-Laure Bondoux (Batchelder Award Winner)

Originally published in 2009 in France by Bayard Editions Jeunesse
Translated into to English in 2010 by Y. Maudet
Published in the United States in 2010 by Delacorte Press, a division of Random House, Inc.
Historical Fiction

I chose to read and blog about Bondoux's book A Time for Miracles for three reasons. First, it is a Batchelder Award winning novel. Second, it was written by a French author, and I had the opportunity to take three groups of high school students to France while I was a teaching in Tennessee; I assumed it would be easier to read a French novel because I have traveled extensively in France and might be familiar with some of the locations mentioned in the book. This did, in fact, turn out to be true. And third, I chose this novel because of the title and cover; I thought the story would have a positive message and would be uplifting.

What I didn't know was that I would be in for a big surprise; the book was not at all what I expected.
Mont St. Michel, France
Blaise Fortune's Birthplace
Gloria and Blaise's Destination
A Symbol of Hope and Freedom
It wasn't positive and uplifting. As a matter of fact, it was about the ravages of war and the plight of refugees fleeing their country for their lives. However, I loved this book and couldn't put it down. I found the book riveting. I look forward to reading it again and sharing it with my students. The story takes place from the Republic of Georgia to France (and everywhere in between), from 1985, or 1984 to be precise, until 2005.

From reading the back dust cover jacket, the reader is told little about what the story will actually be about. It simply reads:

"Hush, hush! I never lie, Mr. Blaise.
I may embellish things a little
from time to time, that's all." 
Gloria strokes my hair. 
"There's nothing wrong
with making up stories to
make life more bearable."

Embellishment! That's an understatement! Not until the end of the novel, does the reader truly understand the significance of those words and their true meaning. Don't worry! I won't tell you the ending! You have to read it for yourself if you like historical fiction.

The first lines of Chapter 1 read "MY name is Blaise Fortune and I am a citizen of the French Republic. It's the pure and simple truth." Or is it? Blaise begins to tell his story. . . .

The story is about a woman named Gloria and a boy named Blaise Fortune (a.k.a. Koumail) and their five-year journey to freedom from the war-torn Republic of Georgia to Mont St. Michel, France. Blaise loves to hear Gloria tell the story of how they first came to be together. One day while picking peaches in her father's orchard, a train derails nearby, and Gloria finds a woman in the wreckage who is dying. She pleads with Gloria to take her baby, and Gloria ends up raising Blaise as her own.

Map of the Republic of Georgia
This is not the map provided in the book.
The map in the book is more detailed.
Seven years later, the Soviet Union collapses, and Gloria decides they must flee the war-torn Republic of Georgia and travel to France. She wants to take Blaise (Koumail) to Mont St. Michel, France, where he was born, to a place where they will be safe and free. For me, Mont St. Michel becomes a symbol of hope and freedom, and because I have been there three times, it became even more meaningful.

Blaise is seven years old when their journey begins. Two maps are included at the beginning of the book showing the details of their long journey. The maps show where they stay and the people they meet along the way. The maps are very helpful, especially for people who are not familiar with this part of the world. I found it helpful to study the maps once again after reading the novel.

The book describes in detail the ravages of war and the plight of refugees who are fleeing for their lives. Not only is the story about their journey to France incredible but the ending is totally unexpected. After all, "There's nothing wrong with making up stories to make life more bearable."

If you enjoy reading historical fiction, I highly recommend this book. Below you will find a short video about Mont St. Michel, Gloria and Blaise's destination from the war-torn Republic of Georgia. Mont St. Michel was one of my favorite places I visited when I was visiting this country. If you ever have an opportunity to visit France, don't miss visiting Mont St. Michel!


Anne-Laure Bondoux's Official Website (Can Translate into English)
Mont St. Michel
Image Source
Map Source
Find This Book At Your Library

No comments:

Post a Comment