On the Mediterranean Sea, four boats come into contact. One is an old commercial vessel, another a luxury ocean liner with thousands of passengers, the third a water rescue and patrol boat for the Spanish government, and the last a lonely raft of Algerian migrants trying to make their way to a better life. Collision, by acclaimed German author Merle Kröger, shows the reverberations of small decisions across our modern, globally connected world, where the difference between life and death for one person is the product of a thousand offhand choices by others.

Based on the current European migrant crisis, Collision focuses on the hours before and after a small encounter between the raft, piloted by a human trafficker, and the cruise ship, strikingly named The Spirit of Europe. Pivoting among characters on those boats (plus people on a trade ship that happens to be in the area and on the ship sent out to rescue the migrants), the novel has a massive cast for its small page count. But it's a testament to Kröger's verve that she is able to widen the scope of her narrative without ever losing her sense of direction. The book is about what happens when people and projects unexpectedly collide, and by having such a large cast, she can frame her plot from a healthy plethora of perspectives. Collision brilliantly weaves many disparate threads together, showing how everyone is far more connected than they think. --Noah Cruickshank, adult engagement manager, the Field Museum, Chicago, Ill.

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