After hearing an interview with this graphic novel's author, Samya Kullab, I decide to read it. The Syrian situation has been a complex, tragic one: a devastating civil war and now, a refugee crisis. Kullab decided the illustrated format would most powerfully relay both the the background and current situation for North Americans. While it is a fictionalized account of one young family's recent experience , the author compressed the many harrowing, first hand stories told to her as a Globe and Daily Star journalist .
In under 80 pages, illustrator Jackie Roche (and colorist Freiheit) and Kullab move the reader from a relatively stable Aleppo with young Amina and her relatives, through the despair of Lebanese refugee camps, and finally, across the ocean to the cold and uncertainty of Canada.
The comic panels are rendered in dull, grey tones, reflecting the life-draining experiences Syrians endured to find a peaceful existence.
7 pages of Endnotes explain, in great detail, the many challenges encountered and so the novel provides an robust account of the complex, intertwined political, social, economical and emotional issues buffeting the family. For example, while in the Lebanese camps, Amina receives a wedding invitation from her 13 year old friend, Mona. The scene sets up an extensive footnote explaining 23 percent of female refugees became child brides : some parents explained they felt compelled to marry of their daughters in order to "protect" them from sexual predators in the camps.
In order to condense so much into the panels, the narrative occasionally bumps as it moves from present to past and then forward again, requiring some concentration from readers. However, this is a minor point - this short book gives an incredibly powerful sense of just what it is like to "Escape from Syria." Recommended to anyone that wants a fuller understanding of the impact of that conflict and emigration on Syrians.
This was a great book. It was an easy read and the graphics gave it life. It helped a white feminist see into an issue I’ll probably never experience. This is a real thing and this helps us see it and learn about life different than our own.
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