In the summer of 2015, shortly before he entered seventh grade, Georgi learned that the Migration Board had rejected his family’s application again. The news came in a letter, which he translated for his parents, who couldn’t read Swedish.
They appealed the board’s decision, and Georgi tried to focus on school as he waited for more news. Not long afterward, a friend on his floor-hockey team stopped coming to practice. Georgi was distraught when he learned that the teammate, a refugee from Afghanistan, had been deported with his family, “as if they were criminals,” he said. Georgi became sullen and aloof, and he stopped speaking Russian. He said that the words were just sounds, whose meaning he could no longer decipher. He withdrew from his parents, whom he accused of having failed to assimilate. His nine-year-old brother, Savl, acted as the family’s interpreter. “Why haven’t you been learning Swedish?” Georgi said in Swedish to his brother, who translated the words into Russian for their parents.