This is the story of Elias, a Damascene boy whose family escapes the horrors of the Syrian civil war.
Elias is only a kid when he and his younger brother, Moussa, are kidnapped and held captive in their father’s medical clinic. Moussa is killed when an explosion hits the building, but Elias is freed in the chaos. As a consequence of this loss and the mounting insecurity in their neighborhood, Elias’ family decides it is time to abandon everything they possess and leave their country. They find refuge in a tent village in neighboring Lebanon, where they are surrounded by other traumatized families, before their application for asylum to Canada is accepted. Once again, they leave their world behind them and head toward a new life, where the culture shock and challenges of a new reality set in. The author is largely successful in conveying the sense of trauma and loss typical to all refugees’ journeys. Chapters that end with cliffhangers that will hook the attention of reluctant readers alternate between the Middle East and Canada, offering some respite between emotion-charged scenes. Notwithstanding some unnecessary clichés, this brief novel is a powerful testimony—inspiring and tear-jerking at times—to the plight of refugees looking forward to a new life while attempting not to forget those they met in the journey and had to leave behind.
Poignant. (author interview) (Fiction. 12-17)