Source: Review Copy via TeensReadToo
Koumail knows exactly who he is: Blaise Fortune, undisputable and abandoned-through-a-train-accident French boy. Even as the seven-year-old flees the collapsing Soviet Union with Gloria, his beloved mother figure, Koumail knows that there will always be a safe haven for the faux mother-son duo in France. It turns out to be a journey fraught with hard work and starvation, doubt and heartbreak. Through it all, Koumail merely has to recite one sentence -- just one -- to make sure he still has the strength to continue. My name is Blaise Fortune and I am a citizen of the French Republic. It’s the pure and simple truth. Or is it?
Wow, A Time of Miracles is a little 200+ page novel that packs quite a punch. Translated from French, this story is told as an extended flashback laced with intricate details and told in flowing prose. Originally, the synopsis failed to impress me, and I started this book with a feeling of dread, often reminding myself of the fact that I could simply write a scathing review to vent my feelings afterward. Well, I apologize profusely to this book. To put it simply: I was blown away. This is just a simple story of a boy and a woman, escaping oppression and searching for freedom. And yet, it was also emotional and gripping all at once. Ms. Bondoux definitely succeeded in drawing out the reader’s sympathy for the two characters.
And Koumail, oh Koumail -- funny, sweet, and fiercely protective of Gloria. It isn’t possible for someone to not like this little boy. He entertains with his antics, his blind faith, and the three true loves he meets on their short journey. Even while Koumail’s begging in front of a random restaurant in the icy coldness, he’s still alight with hope.
A Time of Miracles is a surprisingly moving historical novel. It is one of those books you close with a quiet sigh.