The Boat People by Sharon Bala

The Boat People

When a rusty cargo ship carrying Mahindan and five hundred fellow refugees from Sri Lanka's bloody civil war reaches Vancouver's shores, the young father thinks he and his six-year-old son can finally start a new life. Instead, the group is thrown into a detention processing center, with government officials and news headlines speculating that among the "boat people" are members of a separatist militant organization responsible for countless suic...

Details The Boat People

TitleThe Boat People
Release DateJan 1st, 2018
GenreFiction, Cultural, Canada, Historical, Historical Fiction

Reviews The Boat People

  • Angela M
    3.5 rounded up. This book tackles a difficult and timely topic based on a true event that occurred in Canada in 2010 with the arrival of a ship from Sri Lanka carrying nearly 500 refugees seeking asylum. This is an important story reflecting on an issue that is front and center right now in countries across the world. Through three alternating narratives, Sharon Bala gives us a view of the complexity of it all - the process, the red tape of the s...
  • Diane S ☔
    3.5 The refugee crisis has been prominent in many of our countries, the concern for safety of the current citizens, versus those who are looking for a safe place to land and start over. In this book a ship of Sri Lankan refugees , over five hundred, some women and children, but mainly men, seek sanctuary in Canada. How to rate a book with such a strong political message, where one learns so much about the process these refugees go through when en...
  • Esil
    3.5 stars. There are some risks involved in writing fiction based on real events. An author may take liberties for the sake of the story, but then the liberties can be distracting to the reader... The Boat People was mostly good with some distractions.The Boat People is based on the real story of a boat arriving on the shores of British Columbia in 2010 with around 500 Sri Lankans seeking refugee status: ...
  • Rebecca McNutt
    I received a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway.This is a fairly large book, but a surprisingly fast read and a deep tale of the horrors and woes that many refugees face, horrors so frequent that it's commonplace. The Boat People is ultimately about the futility that the witch hunt of the War on Terror ultimately equates to when it puts innocent people at risk. Set in Canada, it follows a man and his son, accused and arrested for the unthi...
  • Kai
    “Hope was a dangerous thing to lose.”Sharon Bala's debut novel is a touching and emotional journey from war-torn Sri Lanka all the way to the coast of Canada. When a refugee boat with over 500 Tamil people arrives after a long and hard trip, their passengers are divided into male and female and taken to prisons for shelter. Here they have to wait and hope not to be sent back, which would mean their deaths. However, the Canadian government won...
  • Nancy
    We may have all come on different ships but we're in the same boat now. Martin Luther King Jr.Who leaves their home unless under duress? The place of one's nativity, where one's ancestors are buried, the house that contains so many memories are not given up lightly. To be a refugee, an immigrant, means to be cast off freewheeling into the unknown mists of the future, without mooring or a known destination.The Boat People is Sharon Bala's debut no...
  • The Pfaeffle Journal (Diane)
    In August 2010, the merchant vessel Sun Sea arrived at Esquimalt naval base in British Columbia, carrying hundreds of Sri Lankan asylum seekers. Sri Lanka had been in a state of civil war for twenty-five years.Before Sri Lanka gained independence, the British brought in millions of Tamil to work their vast cash crop plantations of coffee, and later of rubber and tea. Colonial officials brought in approximately a million Tamil speakers from India ...
  • Taryn Pierson
    Considering the current crisis at the U.S./Mexico border, with children being separated from parents and asylum seekers being treated like criminals, this seems like a good time to learn what it’s like to be a refugee. Although Bala’s book is set Canada, not the U.S., and her characters are from Sri Lanka, not Mexico and Central America, the themes of the novel felt highly relevant to me. It doesn’t matter what language you speak or what cu...
  • Kate Olson
    There are certain books that enter into our lives for a purpose, and this is one of those books for me. This heartbreaking look at the refugee crisis in general, and specifically that of Sri Lankan refugees being detained in Canada, was an educationally rich experience for me, and one that pushed a critical issue back into the front of my mind. Through Bala's characters, readers are presented with complex philosophical and political issues in a t...
  • Charlsa
    I was surprised by this book. It is a work of fiction concerning the Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka that immigrated by ship to Canada. It is apparent the author researched the subject extensively and created a great story. I knew nothing about the subject before reading this book. The thing I most enjoyed about this book is that the author didn't choose a "side". She presented everyone's point of view and did a great job of illustrating that immig...
  • ♥ Sandi ❣
    3 stars-Thank you to Keep Turing Pages and Doubleday for the chance to read and review this book. This book would have been a 4 star book for me had the author added the needed quotation marks to her story. However, since I find the lack of quotation marks to be interrupting and annoying while reading a novel, I will automatically deduct one star from the review. The premise of this story is very much in the current headlines today. Immigration i...
  • Rebecca Foster
    Based on a real-life refugee crisis that hit Canada in 2009, Bala’s debut novel illuminates all sides of the issue by focusing on a father and son who travel from Sri Lanka to Vancouver Island by boat, their lawyers, and the Japanese-Canadian adjudicator who is to decide on their case. The message about the necessity of compassion might not be very subtle, but it’s an important one given the plight of refugees around the world today. There is...
  • Krista
    Mahindan turned his back to the railing and slid down to sit on the deck. Exhaustion whenever he thought of the future; terror when he remembered the past. He yawned and pressed a cheek to raised knees, then tucked his arms in for warmth. At least here on the boat they were safe from attack. Ruksala, Prem, Chithra's mother and father. The roll call of the dead lulled him to sleep. The Boat People means well – invoking the real life story of the...
  • Allison ༻hikes the bookwoods༺
    The Canada Reads theme this year is one book to open your eyes and that’s exactly how I feel about The Boat People. The book illustrates how most Canadians (excepting only indigenous people) are immigrants. It doesn’t matter that my ancestors came here three hundred years ago, they were once immigrants too. The refugee process is so arbitrary in this country and The Boat People certainly opened my eyes to that.
  • Cheryl
    OUTSTANDING!!! Beautifully told, refreshing writing. This transpires along Canada's border, but the timely relevance to current American headlines is UNCANNY. And to finish this on our Independence Day is quite moving. What a gift this author has given us. And it's her debut! BRAVA.
  • Patrice Hoffman
    The Boat People by Sharon Bala might best be reviewed after tonight's State of the Union address... The Boat People tells the story of immigration from three different viewpoints... VERY different viewpoints. There's no denying the political message behind this read, but instead of focusing there, I'll begin with a good ol' simple review. For me, the most prolific character was Mahindan. He arrives to Canada's shores with his 6 year old son with ...
  • Brooke — brooklynnnnereads
    This was such an in-depth and emotional behind the scenes look at immigration and those who are refugees.An especially important novel in this current political climate; however, I think this novel will important regardless of the year. This story follows multiple points of view from the individual refugee to the person assisting in making the decision on whether they stay in the country or not. I definitely recommend this novel as it’s eye ope...
  • Celia
    In October 2009 and August 2010, the Ocean Lady and the MV Sun Sea, two ships bearing together just over 550 Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka, arrived in British Columbia. Those vessels and their passengers were the inspiration for this novel.Bala insists that all characters in this book are fictional. Very little is known about the actual Tamil refugees. Bala made these characters up based on the little information she COULD find out.The book addre...
  • Danielle Tremblay
    I received this novel by GoodReads giveaways in exchange for an honest review.I will not summarize this story, but you can read an excellent one written by Nancy here: Shire, the British-Somali poet wrote:you have to understand,no one puts their children in a boatunless the water is safer than the land.Sharon Bala won the Journey Prize for her novel whose central portion takes place on the Pacific Oc...
  • Heather(Gibby)
    I loved so many things about this book. Mostly I liked how it showed how complicated immigration issues can be and that there are no black and white answers to some difficult questions. I also felt it exposed how those who gain a position by political patronage are not always qualified to make the significant decisions they are tasked with.I have read 4 of the 5 contenders for Canada Reads (still need to read Forgiveness), but so far this is the ...
  • Rachel Stansel
    The Boat People is the fictional story of one man and his son's experience fleeing Sri Lanka. In addition to his experience, we follow a young lawyer and one of the governmental employees assigned to determine who stays in Canada and who is to be deported. I knew nothing about the history of the Tamil people and the plight of those who attempted to flee not just to Canada but to Australia. In the looming fear of terrorism, the determination of wh...
  • Allison
    Good, yes, and this book does a fine job of illustrating the complexities of leaving your home country in the wake of war. It also shines a strong light on the outrageous impossibility of the resultant jobs of people like immigration officers who are left to interpret and judge those complexities. Are our immigration people prepared enough, educated enough? How can they possibly be able to eek out any clear pictures in these wild refugee stories/...
  • Nora
    A truly beautiful book! I did not know much about the conflicts in Sri Lanka, apart from vaguely having heard of the Tamil Tigers growing up (it was a pretty big deal in when I lived in Norway, for obvious reasons, but I still didn't learn much about it). I was immensely moved by this book, with Bala's great writing making me heavily invested in the characters. A must-read for people living in Canada.
  • Brandon
    When a cargo ship carrying several hundred Sri Lankan refugees arrives off the coast of Vancouver, those aboard hope for a new beginning in Canada. The problem? You just can’t walk into the country (or sail in for that matter). There’s a long, drawn out process in claiming refugee status and it doesn’t always work out for those in need. In The Boat People, author Sharon Bala takes inspiration from a real life incident in 2010 to shine a lig...
  • ebookclassics
    The Boat People is a really impressive debut novel by Sharon Bala, Based on real events that took place in the early 00s, the book explores the social and emotional issues related to accepting refugees from war-torn Sri Lanka into Canada. She tells the story through the eyes of several characters, including Mahindan, a widowed Tamil father; Priya, a young Canadian law student with a Tamil background; and Grace, an adjudicator whose mother and gra...
  • Brittany
    Seriously? Thats how it ends??? I need like 50 more pages.But all jokes aside this book is beautifully written with a heart wrenching story that is relevant to today. The fact that a lot of this book is set in Vancouver, BC brings a familiar feeling to the story that I long for in books these days. I am no longer interested in books set in the US, I would rather read about my own country, and The Boat People really hits home that Canada has its o...
  • Rhonda Lomazow
    Absolutely beautifully written a look at the desperate lives of these refugees.who escape on boats& then must adjust to a new world full of racism daily dangers &threats of deportation a very timely read,
  • Lynn
    This is a remarkable poignant and so very pertinent in today’s world. I appreciate the fact that Bala offers no meaningless/well-meaning platitudes, not does she take sides. She simply presents the facts of reality from all sides. Though she excels in detailing the everyday struggles for each character on all sides of the refugee issue. I hope Manhinda won in his admissibility hearing and that Grace finally realized the value of comp...
  • Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
    The Boat People is a timely book that focuses on an important issue - the refugee crisis. It is based on a real-life incident that occurred in 2010 off the coast of British Columbia when a cargo ship of 500 Sri Lankan refugees were seeking asylum in Canada.Bala uses a few different viewpoints to tell the story but I was most engaged with Mahindan and his son who, along with the other refugees, fear deportation as the Canadian government determine...
  • Booktart
    I’m surprised this novel hasn’t garnered more attention, as its major storyline could not be more relevant today, with the travel ban and immigration debate going on in the US (and around the world).This took a little bit to get into but I thought the stories, especially those of Priya and Mahindan, were well written and very compelling ( also heartbreaking). One of my good friends is Sri Lankan and I’ve traveled there so this novel held a ...