This week we discuss Escape from Aleppo by N.H. Senzai as one of the books that present situations of pain and bravery. Each book we looked at this month offers surprises and controversy. Each is thought-provoking. As we said when we recommended Escape from Aleppo as our book of the month, the novel seems right out of the headlines.
HOLLY: As we finish up this book, I find that our selections became more and more serious. Escape from Aleppo covers the serious matter of civil war and a government so focused on remaining in power that it will kill its own people. Readers are immediately pulled into the world of 12-year-old Nadia as she is awakened on the night she must escape her own home in Aleppo, Syria so as to avoid the bombing from the government. Readers learn about what is currently happening in Syria and how regular citizens are drawn into the horror of war as either combatants or refugees.
I find this book frightening and immediate, with edge-of-your-seat episodes that highlight the myriad ways in which people attempt to either save aspects of Aleppo or escape it while negotiating the journey to either encounter or avoid people who may or may not kill them.
I like how Senzai describes the situation in Syria. It makes for a great read as well as a primer on the politics that include the responses of other countries to what is happening there. What did you think of this book, Marilyn, and the way it connects to some of the others we have discussed this month?
MARILYN: I agree this book serves as a primer on the events in Syria. It seems right out of the headlines, but it also gives the reader a background of the history of Syria and why its people cherish their country. The story of Nadia kept me reading late into the night. I also marvel at the characters, especially, the elderly, mysterious man, Ammo Mazen, who takes on the responsibility of helping Nadia to escape through city to find her family in Turkey. Then there is Nadia herself, whose growing grit and courage sustains her on the journey to rejoin her family.
All of the books we have discussed are strong in character development. And, each of them feature characters that make sacrifices for those they love. In doing so they help others and themselves. In this book, unlike the previous books we have read, Nadia does protect an orphan 8-year-old boy she finds on her journey out of the city. So, in this case a girl cares for a boy younger than herself.
HOLLY: Thinking about sacrifices, and well, bravery, I think of the documentary, “Last Men in Aleppo,” which was nominated for an Oscar this year. You also note how these books have strong character development, and I would agree. Furthermore, this books, and the others, are filled with strong characters who must overcome their fear and perhaps the fear of the world so as to save themselves, their families and their culture. I want readers to think about that when they read this book and others that present us with disasters. So often we don’t recognize that strength because we concentrate on the perceived need refugees bring to our consciousness.
MARILYN: This is the first book I have read by Senzai and I want to read more. There is little information for young people about the countries she writes about. I look forward to reading about Afghanistan and India in her three other books. In Escape she fleshes out the story with flashbacks that fill in the background and experiences of the main character, Nadia.
Title: Escape from Aleppo
Author: N.H. Senzai
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Date Published: January 30, 2018
This is the fourth installment of May 2018’s My Take/Your Take. We started with Bronze and Sunflower, The Hired Girl, and The Book of Dust. To follow the whole conversation, check back each Wednesday.