A poignant letter written by a fearful Syrian father to his son on the eve of a treacherous sea crossing to Europe.
Commemorating the third anniversary of the death of 3-year-old Alan Kurdi, whose lifeless body, captured on camera, washed up on shore in September 2015, sparking worldwide outrage, this intensely moving story opens with the father’s recollection of the family’s peaceful life in Homs, Syria, before the city was turned into a deadly war zone. Writing in the first person, Hosseini successfully contrasts the father’s Homs, a bustling and lively city before the war, with the one his son has known, a ravaged city marked with bombings, starvation, and burials. The contrast is rendered through Hosseini’s unmatchable lyrical style—but also effectively portrayed on a graphic level through a pronounced change in Williams’ palette, warm greens and ochers modulating to slate-blues and grays in the loose, affecting watercolors. The second portion of the letter is a prayer for a safe journey. It is powerfully evocative of the plight in which displaced populations find themselves, having to undertake a journey known to be unsafe—yet, for many, it is an option they cannot afford not to take. The book reads like an emotional gut-punch…an excruciating one. It is impossible to read without feeling intense compassion for those—and there are thousands—whose lives resemble those of the characters in the book.
Powerful. (Picture book. 10-adult)