I really struggle with picking up books that are outside my comfort zone. It’s something I definitely need to do more of.
I just get so sucked in by the idea of a new historical fiction or women’s fiction book that I find it hard to deviate.
But I was recently invited to review a book from Bonnier Zaffre that I knew wouldn’t give me the warm, fuzzy feeling I usually look for in a book. The main topic is war. And not just a war but a war that has been raging on over the last few years.
The Beekeeper of Aleppo was a difficult read – I cannot deny that – but it is necessary. It’s necessary because it opens our eyes to the plight of refugees who are escaping war and persecution in their own country. It’s necessary because when you read headlines about war day in, day out, you seem to desensitise to it, until you see the whole thing through a character’s eyes.
Let’s get into the review.
Who wrote it?
Christy Lefteri. She actually won the Aspen Words Literary Prize 2020 for it.
How long is ‘The Beekeeper of Aleppo’?
So, what happens?
Nuri and Afra are refugees from Aleppo, Syria who are fleeing the war that has ripped their lives apart. Witnessing the destruction of their city and the catastrophic consequences that the war has inflicted on their lives, they must leave their home under the cover of darkness and start their perilous journey to the UK.
Moving between the past and the present, the book charts their migration – across dangerous waters, into the homes of smugglers, from tents to blankets in the middle of the wood and everything in between. Although as a reader, you are aware that the couple have made it to the UK, the book is riveting in describing how they got there.
What are my thoughts?
This book is a difficult read, due to the nature of the story, but it is a necessary one as this can be a migrant’s reality.
I found it utterly captivating in its beautiful descriptions of Aleppo before the war as well as the moments that Nuri finds a little comfort in his new surroundings.
Lefteri’s descriptions of PTSD highlight the repercussions of trauma in the mind, despite the body finding safety and security in a different country – it was sensitively approached and executed very well.
The final image in the book was filled with hope and it will stay with me for a very long time. A beautiful end to a fantastically-written novel.
This book is a really important one that highlights the dangerous journeys that refugees face and the scars they are left with as a result of the traumatic experiences they’ve had.
I would recommend this book to anyone – it really touched me and made me aware of the elements of life that I take for granted everyday.
5/5 – an emotional journey of trial and tribulation, this book is remarkable in the vivid picture it paints of a refugee’s life.