All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Dear World by Bana Alabed

on October 11, 2017

Dear World: A Syrian Girl’s Story Of War And Plea For Peace
Bana Alabed
Simon & Schuster UK
2017, 206p
Copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster AUS

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

“I’m very afraid I will die tonight.” —Bana Alabed, Twitter, October 2, 2016
“Stop killing us.” —Bana Alabed, Twitter, October 6, 2016
“I just want to live without fear.” —Bana Alabed, Twitter, October 12, 2016

When seven-year-old Bana Alabed took to Twitter to describe the horrors she and her family were experiencing in war-torn Syria, her heartrending messages touched the world and gave a voice to millions of innocent children.

Bana’s happy childhood was abruptly upended by civil war when she was only three years old. Over the next four years, she knew nothing but bombing, destruction, and fear. Her harrowing ordeal culminated in a brutal siege where she, her parents, and two younger brothers were trapped in Aleppo, with little access to food, water, medicine, or other necessities.

Facing death as bombs relentlessly fell around them–one of which completely destroyed their home–Bana and her family embarked on a perilous escape to Turkey.

In Bana’s own words, and featuring short, affecting chapters by her mother, Fatemah, Dear World is not just a gripping account of a family endangered by war; it offers a uniquely intimate, child’s perspective on one of the biggest humanitarian crises in history. Bana has lost her best friend, her school, her home, and her homeland. But she has not lost her hope–for herself and for other children around the world who are victims and refugees of war and deserve better lives.

Dear World is a powerful reminder of the resilience of the human spirit, the unconquerable courage of a child, and the abiding power of hope. It is a story that will leave you changed.

When the most recent war began in Syria, Bana Alabed was just 3 years old. Today she’s 8 and although she and her family have escaped their country of birth for a neighbouring one, they long for the day when they might be able to return to a peaceful place and get on with living their lives in the place they still call home.

I will fully admit to ignorance about a lot of world issues and the war in Syria is one of them. I know it’s going on but I only have the vaguest of understandings as to why. And I feel as though there are certain conflicts that sometimes get lost as the media focuses on other things. The information is out there but whereas some atrocities will dominate the 24 hour news cycle for weeks, others will be a one liner down the bottom of the screen or deep in the pages (online or paper). So when I was told about this book I figured it would be a good opportunity to be provided with a unique look and a platform to jump off from when it came to Syria.

Bana and her family lived in Aleppo (now somewhat more famous than it was because a presidential candidate blanked on what it was when asked on television what his solution would be). Her father was a lawyer and her mother an English teacher who was going to law school when the war began. The high level of education her parents have as well as her mother’s proficiency in English enabled her mother to set up a twitter account which describes the war through the eyes of Bana. The account is in Bana’s name and some of the words may even be hers but her mother manages the account for her and tweets in English in order to reach a bigger audience.

Bana’s twitter account (and probably this memoir) is not without its critics who attack it for being propaganda and questioning whether or not Bana really even understands what she’s tweeting given her youth. Searching her name on twitter brings up an awful lot of hatred, the most recent revolving around the fact that she was photographed meeting Colin Kaepernick and also accusations that her father is either a member of an Al Qaeda group or has ties to them. It now seems like there are an awful lot of conflicting reports about the family and to be quite honest, it’s difficult to ascertain which is the truth and which is bits of information and guesswork knitted together in order to further an agenda.

That doesn’t change what has been happening in Syria and the amount of civilians that have been killed of displaced in the civil war. The Syrian government has been accused of using chemical weapons, of targeting schools and hospitals repeatedly and also “double bombing” where they’d bomb an area just attacked in order to target aid workers and responders to the first attack. Syrian children should be spending their days in schools rather than sheltering in basements avoiding conflicts. There are reports of widespread electrical and water shortages as well as food shortages as roads into the city were slowly cut off. Both sides have been accused of atrocities and there’s probably a grim reality for most Syrian Aleppo civilians of living in rubble, lining up for basics and making numerous trips to basements to shelter. And if this book highlights that for people, then it’s doing its job. It might be sad to suggest that children are being used as propaganda but children being targeted is something people can relate to, no matter what. Sometimes, be it right or wrong, people need to be able to put a ‘face’ to something, to understand by identifying with someone and for many people, Bana could be that person. She now resides in Turkey, having been granted citizenship and thanks to this memoir and the notoriety of her twitter account, has the chance to travel extensively and shine a light on the war on Aleppo. Maybe she’s the next Malawa. Maybe she isn’t. There will always be criticism, there will always be two sides to every story, there will always be people who seek to discredit or tear others down and assert that their morals/values/beliefs are better than someone else’s. It might be sad to suggest that an 8yo child is a tool of her parents and the UN to promote propaganda but what’s even sadder is that there’s a situation where this is possible and spending more than half her very young life living in a warzone is definitely the worst.


Book 167 of 2017


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