"Recently optioned to become a film, Katja Meier’s timely memoir Across the Big Blue Sea: Good Intentions and Hard Lessons in an Italian Refugee Home avoids easy sentiment in favour of honesty and humour. The African women we meet at this Tuscan refugee home are fierce, scared, brave, vulnerable — triumphant yes, but human too. A beautifully complex account. "
- The Guardian, Best Summer Books 2018
"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 and author of When in French
"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 of The Fatal Gift of Beauty
"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 (winner of the Albatros Travel Literature prize)
"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
"For the more modern reader, Katja Meier’s compelling memoir provides a searing yet sympathetic portrait of the refugee crisis on Italian soil. By turns optimistic and devastating, Across the Big Blue Sea reminds readers of the strength of empathy, compassion, and humility against corruption, greed, and self-servitude. Meier’s memoir is an intimate, heartfelt work that recognizes the complicated state of both interpersonal and international relations, a must-read for any global citizen."
- Magenta Magazine, Florence
"This truly inspiring and thought-provoking book examines the role of migrants in Tuscany from a very personal perspective."
- Ondine Cohane, writer New York Times and Conde Nast Traveler
"A powerful page-turner: engrossing, funny and insightful. A vital read for these times!"
- Rachel Roddy, The Guardian columnist and author of My Kitchen in Rome
"Across the Big Blue Sea reveals daily truths about the migration emergency and the personal commitment needed today and helps us understand what's going on. Impossible to put down once you start reading it."
- Ortensia Visconti, author London
"A poignant and honest telling of the realities and contradictions the author faces in her work with refugees in Italy. Brutally self-aware and movingly empathetic, Meier strikes the perfect balance between the personal and political as she shares her struggle of navigating the troubled waters of the refugee crisis in her own backyard. A must for anyone interested in modern Italian culture and politics, the global refugee situation, or simply heartfelt writing."
- Rebecca Winke, writer The Telegraph
"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
"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
"This wondrous account of a year in a refugee home in a Tuscan hilltop town is not just an insight into Italy's struggle to handle the immigration crisis and background into what people are running from, but a book that races through individual stories with the pace of a good thriller. A must read for tourists and locals alike!"
- Alice Kiandra Adams, Latteria Studio Rome
"A powerful and thought-provoking memoir with the ability to change people’s perspectives on many current issues."