Under the Sun

Under the Sun

3.5 2
by Arthur Dorros

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Part My Side of the Mountain and part The Red Badge of Courage, a gripping journey of survival across a country at war

From Arthur Dorros, author of many highly-acclaimed picture books, comes this thrilling first novel.

Thirteen-year-old Ehmet, separated from his parents by the violence in his native Bosnia, travels alone across the


Part My Side of the Mountain and part The Red Badge of Courage, a gripping journey of survival across a country at war

From Arthur Dorros, author of many highly-acclaimed picture books, comes this thrilling first novel.

Thirteen-year-old Ehmet, separated from his parents by the violence in his native Bosnia, travels alone across the country to a place he's heard rumors of, a village of children living in peace. Along the way, Ehmet uses all his skills, remembered and read, to find food, shelter, direction, and a new life for himself.

This important and timely book, based on extensive travel and research, shows readers the cost of war and the importance of young people in building peace.

Editorial Reviews

Based loosely on the story of the "children's village," a community in Croatia rebuilt by a mixed group of Serbs, Croats, and Muslims, many of whom were orphans of the war, Under the Sun traces the story of Ehmet, a thirteen-year-old who, with his mother, is displaced from Sarajevo and forced to wander across the countryside searching for sanctuary and missing family members. Dorros' novel provides younger adolescents with a vivid description of the Bosnian conflict through a sympathetic and compelling character. Ehmet's story demonstrates the futility and destruction caused by greed and ancient conflicts, but the novel also offers a vision of hope based on tolerance and compassion. Of particular interest is a diverse collection of compelling characters Ehmet meets on his journey in search of sanctuary. Under the Sun is a memorable story set against an important and tragic series of events. It is not a particularly enjoyable book, but it is an important book. 2004, Amulet Books, 216 pp., Ages young adult.
—F. Todd Goodson
Children's Literature
Life is dangerous in war-torn Sarajevo, leading thirteen-year-old Ehmet, who is part Muslim and part Catholic Croatian, and his mother to leave the city to stay with their relatives in the country. They hide during the day and walk at night to avoid their enemies, who could be almost anyone—Serb, Croat, Jew, Catholic, Muslim. On their first night with their relatives, a band of Serbs storm the house, taking Ehmet's aunt and uncle prisoner and attacking Ehmet's mother (rape is implied). Once more, Ehmet and his mother are on the run, now hoping to reach his grandparents in Croatia. She becomes very ill and dies along the way. Ehmet is picked up and placed in a harsh refugee camp but he escapes and continues on. Racism is his ever-present enemy, yet there are kind strangers along the way who help him. He eventually reaches safety in an ethnically diverse orphan village, where he stays until reunited with his father. Unfortunately, Dorros' choice to tell Ehmet's story in the third person lessens the reader's emotional involvement with the characters. The setting and events, however, will grab young adults and propel them through this historically accurate novel. There is an author's note that details some of Dorros' research and his visit to the actual "Children's Village" and provides background on events in Yugoslavia in the early 1990's. 2004, Amulet Books, Ages 10 to 14.
—Peg Glisson
It's hard to realize that the war in Bosnia is ancient history now for YAs. Dorros returns to that conflict to create a story of survival, as his protagonist Ehmet journeys across the war-torn countryside finding refuge. Ehmet's father is a Muslim and his mother is a Croat. When Sarajevo becomes too dangerous, 13-year-old Ehmet and his mother leave to find safety with Croatian relatives. Instead of safety, they meet only more danger: Ehmet's mother is attacked (rape is never spelled out, but implied) and becomes withdrawn and ill, later to die of pneumonia. Ehmet has to depend on the kindness of strangers; he has a brief reunion with schoolmates at a refugee camp; and he journeys to a village where orphans are safe. This village is based on an actual place. Dorros has chosen the more distant third person, which slightly removes the reader from the narrative. Also, the politics of this war are extremely confusing as Serb, Croat, and Muslim, many of whom were neighbors and colleagues before the war, turn on one another in a brutally fought civil war. These factors may make it harder for younger YA readers to connect with the story. However, it is a fine complement to Zlata's Diary, and tells a story of a young boy who is amazingly courageous and strong. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2004, Abrams, Amulet, 217p. map., Ages 12 to 15.
—Claire Rosser
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-Thirteen-year-old Ehmet's world has changed from the stable city of Sarajevo into a war-torn zone of fighting borders and stressed economics. Seeking safety, he and his mother flee to the countryside of Croatia, where his aunt and uncle live. When they are taken away, mother and son flee once again. The physical challenges of dodging sniper bullets, avoiding landmines, crossing militia lines, smuggling out of a refugee camp, and walking miles with little food or water are enormous. Yet it's invisible obstacles that test Ehmet's endurance. When his mother dies, he is completely alone. Not until he's able to find an old school friend in a refugee camp, and then another, within a peaceful community in a recovered medieval "Children's Village" does his life settle. The unusual story of the orphans and refugees safely tucked away in this ancient village is the most intriguing part of this novel. This book is well intentioned but overly ambitious in exposing the crisis in Bosnia as it is difficult for readers to keep track of the issues among ethnic, religious, and national allegiances. Ehmet's story unfolds like a camera panning too quickly over too broad a landscape. As a result, character development and necessary background information are given short shrift.-Alison Follos, North Country School, Lake Placid, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This middling war story, placed in Bosnia and Croatia in the early 1990s, follows a boy displaced and scrambling for survival. Thirteen-year-old Ehmet lives in Sarajevo, but when it becomes too dangerous, his father sends him and his mother to the countryside. They're attacked and his mother beaten; they flee and begin walking west towards the Croatian border. Along the way, his mother becomes ill and dies, leaving Ehmet alone to negotiate roving soldiers. He's placed in a refugee camp, but escapes and reaches a tiny village in the Croatian mountains where war orphans have a chance for new lives. Dorros eschews subtlety with over-direct points like "No group seemed to have a monopoly on doing harm or helping." Ehmet is fairly generic, as is the whole text: if not for repeated narrative use of the words "Muslim," "Croat," "Serb," and "Bosnian," the whole thing could take place in any war setting. (map, author's note) (Fiction. 10-13)

Product Details

Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.75(d)
820L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 16 Years

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Under the Sun 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
under the sun is really good. i am in 6th grade and i am reading it. i am only on chapter 10 but it is really good. i give it 4 stars. if u like to read about the former yugoslavia and europe it is a good book.