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Skateway to Freedom

post written by Emma Filbrun

Skateway to Freedom by Ann AlmaTitle: Skateway to Freedom
Author: Ann Alma
Major Themes: Alberta, Canada, Communism, East Germany, Ice Skating, Immigrants, Refugees
Synopsis: When her family flees East Germany for freedom in Canada, Josie struggles with giving up her dream of becoming a figure skater.

Skateway to Freedom was a book I found at a book fair, one that I picked up without knowing anything about it. Sometimes you can make good finds that way! I enjoyed this book because of the glimpse into East Germany that you don’t find very often.

Josie was happy in East Germany, living in a small, Spartan apartment with her parents. Her father, however, wanted to be free and was afraid that he would soon be arrested. He made arrangements and took his wife and daughter across East Germany and Czechoslovakia, where they swam across a river into Hungary and then crossed the border into Austria and freedom! Soon, they were able to go to Canada, where they found themselves living in a tiny hut with no water or electricity. Why would they want to be here? And Josie badly wanted to be a figure skater. Her lessons had abruptly ended when she left East Germany; was there any way to pursue her dream in Canada? Or was the move a big mistake?

I found it interesting to follow the life of a refugee from a Communist country, and see the events surrounding the fall of Communism from her perspective. And I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book set in East Germany—that in itself made the book worth reading. Josie’s introduction to life in the free world was quite interesting, as well. The struggles Josie faced as she had to learn a new language along with the new culture, and make new friends, will help your children have more empathy with others. Josie was blessed to meet a girl who helped her adjust.

WARNING: Josie took figure skating lessons without her father’s permission, knowing that he wanted her to focus only on school.

Age Levels:

Read Aloud—Ages 8 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12


Links to buy Skateway to Freedom:

Amazon: Paperback | Kindle

AbeBooks: View Choices on

Book Depository: Paperback


Alberta, Canada, Communism, East Germany, Ice Skating, Immigrants, Refugees

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