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Reviewed by Maria Victoria Beltran for Readers' Favorite
The Other Side of the Ocean by Beverley Bell is a gripping story of a young boy’s frightening life journey from war-torn Sierra Leone. Saah is the only son of a local elder and enjoys a happy childhood in Freetown with his parents and sisters. He’s expected to follow in his father’s footsteps. In the countryside, however, the rebels are already waging war against the government. Saah’s childhood is forever scarred when fighting erupts in Freetown. Separated from his family and disfigured, he and his brother-in-law manage to escape in a boat to Ghana. He learns to survive going from a small village to a refugee camp in Ghana. The little boy longs to reunite with what is left of his family but will find himself on the other side of the ocean. This is his story.
Beverley Bell's The Other Side of the Ocean is a heart-wrenching story of a boy brutally torn from his family and country. A gifted storyteller, Bell's descriptive literary style is vivid to create a realistic picture in the reader's mind. This narrative has many layers, but the author keeps all the details straight and the timing right. Through it all, the author weaves the various layers together and creates a cohesive whole. The main protagonist is a complex and sympathetic character, and it's almost natural to empathize with him; to feel and experience his emotional state as he tries to find meaning and purpose in life. This novel is highly relevant in a world where millions of individuals are still being forcibly displaced because of conflict and persecution. Highly recommended!