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Reviewed by Kristine Zimmerman for Readers' Favorite
A Young Paladin of Zabul by K.A. Lillehei is an important tale for the times we live in. Lillehei relates the story of Sam, a young boy from Iran, who has begun a perilous journey from his home country to what his father believes will be a better life for the whole family in the United States. Sam's father has shared the stories of the great warrior Rostam with him over and over. He believes that Sam is a champion, just like Rostam, and destined to do great things. Sam is only eleven and is thrust into situations that no child should endure but, unfortunately, many must. Will Sam make it safely to the west and freedom? Will he have the courage of Rostam?
A Young Paladin of Zabul is a book I could not put down. K.A. Lillehei writes with authenticity and passion about what it is like to be a refugee in our world today. Even though the story takes place in Asia and Europe, the trials and difficulties faced by Sam are universal for most refugees. Lillehei has created genuine characters with fears and flaws but also great resilience. I enjoyed how Lillehei incorporated the Persian myths of Rostam and the rituals of Iranian culture. Sam interacts with a wide variety of humanity along his journey, both good and bad, which feels true to me. A Young Paladin of Zabul is an eye-opening story that will give readers, both young and old, a deeper understanding of the refugee crisis and those that choose to embark on these paths.