Never before have so many people fled their homes. According to the United Nations, the number has reached 68.5 million, with only about 100,000 of them resettled. Millions have left behind war, violence, and famine only to face new challenges: children separated from their parents in the United States, extended stays in squalid camps in Greece, and migrant ships turned back by Italian officials. These three writers account for the difficult decisions and hard realities families face when they gamble everything they know to search for something better.


Inspired by the story of an undocumented Guatemalan woman whose 5-year-old son was adopted away from her by an American couple in Missouri, writer Shanthi Sekaran follows two immigrant mothers in her novel Lucky Boy. One crossed the U.S.-Mexico border without papers, the other followed her husband to Silicon Valley from India. Their stories cross around one “lucky boy.”

In Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, writer Laila Lalami follows four people who, like many thousands in recent years, risk their lives on a rubber dinghy on the Mediterranean in hopes of a new life in Europe. They each have their own reasons for craving an escape -- abusive marriages to demeaning work to troubled children -- and each are driven by hope for a life that will be better, just as soon as it isn’t so foreboding.


Writer Jenny Erpenbeck captures the diversity of migrants streaming into Germany in her Go, Went, Gone. The book follows a retired academic, Richard, who happens upon a group of migrants camping out in a park only to make their lives the focus of a new study that is as much about the individual men he encounters as it is about the treatment of the “other” in Western Europe. Erpenbeck makes clear in this work that resilience is no one’s first reason for living.