We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World

Book review by
Lucinda Dyer, Common Sense Media
We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World Book Poster Image
Powerful first-person accounts put faces to refugee crisis.

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Kids say

age 11+
Based on 3 reviews

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Through the girls' stories, readers can put young and relatable faces to conflicts that have fueled the refugee crisis: The persecution of Muslims in Myanmar and the Yazidi minority in Iraq, the unrest in Central America that saw 300,00 people seek asylum in 2017, and the continuing civil wars in Syria and Yemen. A section at the back of the book lists online resources where readers can continue to educate themselves about the plight of refugees.

Positive Messages

With courage and determination, you can overcome incredible odds.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Every story in We Are Displaced  has a role model for readers. It took incredible emotional and often physical courage to leave the lives they had known behind and for those who were resettled in a new country, there were still enormous challenges to be overcome: learning other languages, finding ways to finish or continue their educations, enduring prejudice and taunts of "you don't belong here" or "go back where you came from."


As the young women in the book share their stories, there are disturbing but never explicitly described memories of bombings, the brutal killing of women and children, rapes, and even the suicide of a young girl who burns herself alive because she had lost all hope.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai's We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories From Refugee Girls Around the World includes both her own story of being a displaced person and the first-person accounts of nine young women from Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Myanmar, Columbia, Guatemala, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda. They share often terrifying stories of their escapes from towns, villages, and countries consumed by violence and the challenges of making new lives for themselves. Yousafzai's story (being shot by the Pakistani Taliban for speaking out about a girl's right to an education) will be familiar to many readers, but it's a powerful one that deserves retelling. Violence (bombings, the brutal killing of women and children, rapes) is a constant backdrop, but none of the incidents is vividly described. By using inspiring personal stories to highlight the global refugee crisis, Yousafzai more than fulfills her mission in writing the book: to help people "understand that refugees are ordinary people." An Epilogue updates readers on the lives of the nine girls. Proceeds from the book will be used to support the Malala Fund's work for girls' education.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Kid, 12 years old March 10, 2021

Beautiful and powerful.

This is a beautiful collection of the stories of displaced people, and it really opened my eyes to a lot of things. Well written and powerful. Some violence but... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byKatriny July 1, 2020

Great Learning Expirence

There is a bit of violence but other then that there are inspiring kids who have hope despite their circumstances. Great way for kids to learn about what happen... Continue reading

What's the story?

Malala begins WE ARE DISPLACED with her own story. When she was 11, she began writing an anonymous blog about life in the Taliban-controlled Swat Valley of Pakistan and speaking out for girls' right to an education. The Taliban responded four years later by shooting and almost killing her. Continuing to live in Pakistan proved too dangerous for her family and they were resettled in Great Britain, where they still live. In her travels around the world as an advocate for girls' education, Malala met with and heard the stories of countless girls. In We are Displaced, nine of them share their stories. When sisters Zaynab and Sabreen fled the civil war in Yemen to stay with family in Egypt, they assumed they'd travel on together to the United States and be reunited with their mother. But while Zainab was granted a visa, her sister's was denied for reasons never explained. As Zaynab built a new life for herself in Minneapolis, Sabreen became desperate, finally becoming one of the thousands who attempt to reach Europe in small overcrowded boats. After living under siege in war-torn Syria for two years, Muzoon and her family left everything behind and made their way to a refugee camp in Jordan. Najla and Maria are both still displaced within their own countries -- Najla in Iraq and Maria in Columbia. Analisa made the perilous journey from Guatemala, across Mexico and then across the border into Texas, only to be caught by Border Patrol agents. Marie Claire spent the first four years of her life on the run in the bush before her family escaped from Democratic Republic of Congo, only to find themselves unwanted as refugees in Zambia. Ajida and her family traveled nine days through the Myanmar jungle before reaching a refugee camp in Bangladesh. Farah (now CEO of the Malala Fund) and her family were forced to leave Uganda when she was 2, after the government gave all citizens of Asian descent 90 days to leave the country. The sole non-refugee story comes from Jennifer, a married mother of two teenagers, who (along with her family) volunteered to work with refugees newly arrived in Pennsylvania. Their first "match" was with Marie Claire and her family, and that story has a very happy ending.

Is it any good?

Through the inspiring stories of nine courageous girls, Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai puts a young and relatable face on the world's refugee crisis. The stories recounted in We Are Displaced are simply but powerfully told, and teens will find they often have more in common with the girls (making plans for college, playing on a soccer team, feeling different or being bullied) than they thought possible. Updated photos of Malala and her family, Zainab, Muzoon, Maria, Najla, Ajida, and Marie Claire and Jennifer are included at the back of the book.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what the stories in We Are Displaced taught them about refugees. As of 2017, the United Nations counted 68.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, 25.4 million of them refugees. What do you think countries can do to find homes for so many millions of people?

  • Imagine you and your family had to flee from your home, taking with you only what you could carry. What would you take, and what would you be heartbroken to leave behind?

  • The lives of Jennifer and her family were profoundly changed when they volunteered to help Marie Claire and her family. Are there ways you and your family could help immigrants or refugees in your community?

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