Blog Three: The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri
“There is always one person in a group who has more courage than the rest. It takes bravery to cry out, to release what is in your heart.”
The Book: The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri
The Genre: Novel/ Literary Fiction
Ghostly Rating: 👻👻👻👻
The Blurb: In the midst of war, he found love in the midst of darkness, he found courage In the midst of tragedy, he found hope.
Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo – until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape. As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls. Above all – and perhaps this is the hardest thing they face – they must journey to find each other again.
Moving, powerful, compassionate and beautifully written, The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a testament to the triumph of the human spirit. Told with deceptive simplicity, it is the kind of book that reminds us of the power of storytelling.
The Review: This book has been on my list for a long while. The reason I didn’t pick it up? Because it looked heavy. I was right. Avoiding this book just because the topic was difficult would have been a disservice. Much in the same way I loved The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, The Beekeeper of Aleppo opened by eyes to the intricacies of what it’s like to need to flee your home for your own safety. There are a lot of people out there that NEED to read this book. I can think of a good few myself. Lefteri takes a fictional approach to a very real problem and in doing so paints a very vivid picture of what it means to leave everything you love behind in the search of the most basic human right… safety.
It is a story of great loss, tragedy, but also of love. If there’s any bone in your body that is against welcoming asylum seekers, pick up this book. This book shares with you a lot of the process of seeking asylum and how difficult it is to prove that you are not safe in your own country. The part of the book that stood out to me the most was when Nuri, the main character through whose eyes we are told the story, is told by the caseworker, Lucy Fisher, shares with Nuri and his wife Afra that in order to be granted asylum it is their responsibility to prove that they are not safe in ANY PART of their own country. I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult that is to prove.
Lefteri shares brief snippets of many people’s stories showing that each and every person has their own stories to tell and their own reasons for doing what they have done. The book is truly heart-breaking at times, showing the impact that a journey such as this, fraught with peril and loss, has on a person. The ending, I felt, was perfectly done. By avoiding the subject of whether or not asylum is granted, the book remains open ended. We know that happy endings don’t always happen for the majority of people who have been in similar situations, and by not finishing the story in this way, Lefteri leaves the reader wondering what happened next.
This book is a must read, and I totally and completely believe that the world would be a better place if everybody read this book. There is always more to a person’s story that what they choose to tell you. You can’t ever judge a person by their actions or by your own biases. The topics of immigration, refugees, asylum seekers, and all the off shoots of this should be handled with kindness and compassion. I always think people should come at the topic from a perspective of how would you want to be treated if you had to flee your own country because you and your family were not safe there? Would you expect compassion and understanding? To be treated like a human? Then, for me, you should also show these values too.
The unique way in which Lefteri chooses to break up the chapters makes for the beautiful story-telling of the most heart-wrenching story. Read this book, but only do so if you’re in the right frame of mind to do so.
Trigger warnings: Sexual assault. Child death. Mental health, particularly PTSD and depression. Violence, war dangers, and atrocities.