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Digital Subscriptions > Quill & Quire > June 2018 > Home and away

Home and away

Two memoirs about Syrian refugees reclaim the complexity and nuance that has been lost in the miasma of ongoing civil war

CURRENT AFFAIRS

* Homes: A Refugee Story

Abu Bakr al Rabeeah with Winnie Yeung

Freehand Books

The Boy on the Beach: My Family’s Escape from Syria and Our Hope for a New Home

Tima Kurdi

Simon & Schuster Canada

Homes: A Refugee Story is the heart-rending account of Abu Bakr al Rabeeah, an Iraqi-born boy who as a child survived the civil war in Syria. Now a high-school student in Edmonton, his story is told through the compassionate and enthralling words of Winnie Yeung, his English language arts teacher. Homes is a chilling tale of firsts that no child should experience: witnessing his first massacre, the first time he recognized the identity of a corpse, the first time he picked up a shell casing in the street. His childhood was taken from him, despite his attempts to hold on to it: “There was no need for me to put my childhood away,” Yeung writes in al Rabeeah’s voice, “it had already disappeared into the ruins of Homs.” In the midst of the horror, al Rabeeah’s tale also brims with humour and heart, balancing the unspeakable violence with the hallmarks of many childhoods: soccer games with friends, kite-flying with his cousins, and playing video games. His family is his lifeline, particularly the quiet bravery of his father, who emerges in this book as a hero.

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