A GAME FOR SWALLOWS by Zeina Abirached


To Die, To Leave, To Return
by & illustrated by
Age Range: 12 - 18
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A stark look at the civil war in Lebanon in the 1980s, as seen through the eyes of a child anxiously awaiting her parents' arrival from her grandmother's house on the other side of the demarcation line.

With shells and gunfire delivering staccato bursts of violence, young Zeina and her brother have been sequestered within the small foyer in their apartment. This tiny room offers the most protection from the constant artillery fire, and it becomes a place for neighbors in the building to congregate and seek asylum. Though war is raging and death always seems to loom near with shells falling and snipers possibly crouching behind every wall, Zeina and her neighbors try to live the best they can—making cakes, acting out scenes from Cyrano de Bergerac and drinking strong Turkish coffee. Through austere black-and-white illustrations (with a detectable influence from Persepolis' Marjane Satrapi), Abirached easily conveys the overarching sense of unease and how something as simple as a visit to grandma’s can inspire fear. Abirached’s readers will instantly empathize with those who do not readily have access to simple luxuries many take for granted—running water, electricity or the simple return of our loved ones from an outing—and this may perhaps spur them to re-examine what they may have otherwise overlooked.

Quietly mesmerizing and thought-provoking. (Graphic memoir. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-57505-941-9
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Graphic Universe
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2012


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