Publishers Weekly Review
In this gripping and heartrending novel, Abawi (The Secret Sky) follows a family of Syrian refugees, whose lives are changed when one of the feared "bombs that fell indiscriminately from the sky" destroys their apartment building. Teenage Tareq, his father, and his four-year-old sister, Susan, survive, but his mother, grandmother, and three other siblings die in the blast. All three flee the country, joining the endless stream of refugees desperately seeking safety. Destiny itself serves as an omniscient narrator, a device that helps to buffer readers from the relentless terror, hunger, and danger plaguing Tareq's family: "To me, you are all from the same world. You have the same hearts, needs, wants and desires." As the family journeys through Syria, Turkey, Greece, and Macedonia on their way to Germany, its configuration varies, most poignantly when Fayed pays smugglers to take his children in a perilously overcrowded boat bound for Greece. Newfound friendships and stories of volunteers pulling refugees from the Aegean provide elements of hope in this upsetting yet beautifully rendered portrayal of an ongoing humanitarian crisis. Ages 12-up. Agent: Stephen Barbara, Inkwell Management. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Library Journal Review
Gr 7 Up-Told from the point of view of Destiny, this novel focuses on one Syrian family tragically affected by a senseless and brutal war. Tareq, the eldest son, along with his father and young sister, are the only members of their immediate family still alive after their village is bombed. The only practical means of survival is to flee their homeland for Turkey, Greece, and ultimately, Germany, to evade persecution and probable (if not inevitable) death. Abawi presents a gripping, heartbreaking story about the refugee crisis in Syria, and how all wars cruelly impact people, society, and nations. The author does not shy away from many of the barbaric acts of terrorism perpetrated against the anti-establishment Muslim citizens: beheadings followed by vacant-eyed human heads posted on metal spikes to terrorize nonbelievers into compliance. She contrasts this poignantly, memorably, and poetically with the endearing way she describes Tareq and his loving family. Several other characters are introduced. Alexia, an American on vacation in Greece, decides to stay in the country to help. Her story is an integral one as it merges with Tareq's arrival, though the thread ends somewhat abruptly. Overall, Abawi skillfully places humanity enmeshed in war into two sides: the "hunters" who feed on the suffering and the "helpers" who lend a hand. VERDICT An inspiring, timely, and must-have account about the Syrian refugee disaster and the perils of all wars; best supplemented with nonfiction information for research purposes.-Etta Anton, Yeshiva of Central Queens, NY © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
Tareq can remember Syria, before the war, before the air strikes, before all of the bombed-out buildings. He misses daily life, how his father would sell food at the market while Tareq helped take care of his siblings. After a bomb drops from the sky and decimates Tareq's family, he begins a sorrowful journey as a refugee, passing through a landscape that is ever changing with other people who are abandoning their homes, whether by choice or fate. This touching read will stir empathy and compassion about the harrowing plight of refugees. Abawi paints a vivid picture of how much control one does not have of her or his own life, especially when up against an entire country's viscous uprising, and helps give perspective on how religion can be used to help create a world where the most basic human rights are violated. Most important, this book illustrates the hardships refugees face in staying connected to the people they love when they are always having to say goodbye.--Bratt, Jessica Anne Copyright 2018 Booklist