Escape from Syria by Samya Kullab
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
First Published: October 1st, 2017
Publisher: Firefly Books
Recommended Age: 12+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Graphic Novel, War
Kullab’s narrative masterfully maps both the collapse and destruction of Syria, and the real-life tragedies faced by its citizens still today. The family’s escape from their homeland makes for a harrowing tale, but with their safe arrival in the West it serves as a hopeful endnote to this ongoing worldwide crisis.
A fictional graphic novel that is very much realistic.
So realistic that it brought tears to my eyes. The thing is, it’s not even sappy. It doesn’t even “beg” for our understanding, empathy and help. We understand, emphasize and want to help nonetheless, because we can and should.
It’s an account of the events preceding and following the escape of Amina’s family from Syria, as the title clearly indicates.
We are briefly told about the events leading to the war in Syria, but the focus is on the negative effects the war has on its population. Not all want to leave—it’s their home, after all—but it comes a time when it’s either you stay and risk death or leave and have a chance at life. Is that really choice?
Although this is a “story,” it is real life for refugees. The author does a fantastic job of making us see the options refugees have and understand the sacrifices that must be made in different cases for security purposes.
A lot of people still see Syrians as worthless bodies that need feeding and the money other people work for. If you believe in stereotypes, you will think all Canadians are open-minded and welcoming, but I have met people who believe Syrians must go back to where they came from.
That must change. We MUST be more accepting. It’s understandable to want to preserve the money one has worked hard for, but you would be wrong to think refusing to help people in need is okay and it’s not always just about money. There are many other ways you can help. All human populations live in communities. No one lives isolated, alone. And this is what it means to live in a community: sharing, interacting, helping those in need.
We love belonging to a place. We’re Canadian, we’re French, we’re American, we’re German, we’re Romanian… That is beautiful. Loving one’s nation is honorable. But we must not forget that we are ALL Earthlings.
It’s so, so easy to forget about what happens in non-Western societies. After all, we have amazingly entertaining movies, TV shows, books, celebrities to read about, music to listen to, games to spend hours playing, shopping malls to go to, bars to drink at, etc. But we should never forget that we are privileged and that helping others live a decent life will not ruin ours. Next time you see a Syrian refugee, maybe start by smiling at them?
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Oh wow! I need to get my hands on this one ASAP! You’ve written a wonderful review ❤
What a great review! I really appreciate that you pointed out the fact that “Escape from Syria” isn’t sappy. Because, as a Syrian living in Finland, almost every time I meet a new person, the first thing I see (after I tell them that I am Syrian) is the look of pity on their faces. It’s not a bad thing though, but it somehow hurts!
By the way, I am working on a graphic novel about Syria as well. It’s almost done :)! I have been posting several short illustrated stories/comics about Syria and refugees on my blog. If interested, here’s the link: