Across the Big Blue Sea

Across the Big Blue Sea : Good Intentions and Hard Lessons in an Italian Refugee Home

4.08 (89 ratings by Goodreads)
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4.08 (89 ratings by Goodreads)

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"Perfectly done, with so much humor and outrage both, Across the Big Blue Sea says more than most anything I've read about the 'refugee crisis' and how the system is set up to fail, even the best-intentioned and most well-meaning (without shying away from the fact that plenty of people involved are neither)." - Lauren Collins, The New Yorker staff writer

Thousands of people risk crossing the treacherous waters of the Mediterranean Sea each year. But what happens if they make it to the other side?

On a hot July day, the Italian coast guard rescues five young Nigerian women in a battered boat. At the same time, Katja Meier is put in charge of a small refugee home in the Tuscan countryside. But a quaint hilltop town with an aged population wasn't exactly where the five young women had hoped to land.

Good intentions quickly get lost in cultural misunderstandings and the shadows of Italy's criminal underworld as an ingenuous improvised social worker confronts hard truths about disorganized charities, insurmountable bureaucracy and prostitution on cypress-lined roads. How can she make a difference when Nigerian girls keep disappearing?

In this searingly honest and thought-provoking memoir, leavened with just enough wry humor, Katja Meier shares the hard lessons she discovered on the steepest of learning curves among Tuscany's seemingly idyllic golden hills.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 290 pages
  • 140 x 216 x 17mm | 372g
  • English
  • 9791220015936
  • 823,960

Review quote

"A powerful page-turner: engrossing, funny and insightful. A vital read for these times!" - Rachel Roddy, The Guardian columnist

"In this era of ugly nativism and xenophobia ascendant, Katja Meier's warm and often funny book is a tonic of goodwill. The important lessons about herself and the world that she learns are a timely reminder of why the great religions, and all the best traditions of human civilization, oblige those of us with roofs over our heads and food to eat, to shelter and feed the stranger." - Nina Burleigh, Newsweek national politics correspondent, and NYT bestselling author

"Absolutely essential reading. Across the Big Blue Sea attends, with humor and humility, to one of the critical questions of our time: how to respect the humanity and dignity of those born in nation-states whose policies and politics compromise both. This is not a tale of victims and villains, nor of saints and heroes, but of women--Italian, Swiss, Nigerian--seeking to make their world a place worth calling home."- Taiye Selasi, author of Ghana Must Go

"Riveting and funny... an important and illuminating book! Katja Meier brings a fresh and critical perspective to the complex issues surrounding the immigrant flows in and out of Italy. What unfolds in her quaint Tuscan village can teach us larger lessons about how to welcome new people into our communities." - Angela Ledgerwood, The Lit Up Show host and Esquire book editor

"Honest, absorbing, and written with empathy and warmth, Meier gives us a much-needed insight into Italy's migrant crisis. An important read for anyone who wants to understand the plight of immigrants and the challenges and joys faced by those trying to welcome them to Europe." - Noo Saro-Wiwa, author of Looking for Transwonderland

"Katja Meier writes with honesty and passion about the difficulties of working with displaced people, some of whom are not always open- for various reasons- to accepting the help on offer. She also warns us of the dangers of a one- size- fits- all approach to helping those in need and through the stories she tells, reminds us ultimately of our shared humanity." - Chika Unigwe, Bonderman Asst. Professor of Lit. Arts, Brown University and author of On Black Sisters' Street

"Essential reading for anyone who thinks they understand the 'migrant/refugee crisis' in Italy and beyond. Well done!" - Barbie Latza Nadeau, journalist (Daily Beast, CNN, Newsweek) and author of Roadmap to Hell
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Rating details

89 ratings
4.08 out of 5 stars
5 40% (36)
4 35% (31)
3 18% (16)
2 6% (5)
1 1% (1)
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