In the second installment of September’s MTYT, Jean Schroeder and Holly Johnson discuss the second of four books that topped USBBY’s Outstanding International Books list. The common theme between these books is the need to escape. In Escape from Syria, a young girl and her family desperately try to escape the Syrian civil war. This story shows how they escape and how they adapt to living in a new country as refugees.
HOLLY: Reading this graphic novel that chronicles the journey Amina, a young Syrian girl, must travel between 2011 and 2016 is a must-read for anyone interested in knowing what is happening in Syria and what Syrian refugees face when trying to find safety. Just like with Peter in Peril from last week, I am incredulous that this is happening; and the world seems to be doing less than what could and should be done! I like the graphic novel format, which makes for a quick read and is just perfect for getting up to speed on the issues in a straightforward way. What did you think of this novel?
JEAN: When I read stories like Peter in Peril and Escape from Syria, I am reminded of what a privileged life I have lived. And that makes it difficult to even imagine and relate to the hardships and abuse the people of Syria (or the Holocaust) have endured. While you see the graphic novel format as a quick read, I find that this format slows my reading down as I need to take written text and visual text in piece by piece – rather frame by frame. I like that it slows me down as it deepens my comprehension process, therefore deepening the emotion. It also helps me to understand the timeline of events.
HOLLY: There are currently a number of books on Syria available to younger readers, and this is a great addition to them. Those books were mentioned in another My Take/Your Take earlier in the year, and some of them have been reviewed through WoW Review but I will mention them again just for ease: Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atai Abawi (2018), Dance of the Banished by Forchuk Skrypuch (2015), which is an historical account of genocide in Aleppo at during World War I, and the graphic novel, Escape from Aleppo by N.H. Senzai (2018).
JEAN: I am struck by the end of this story. Even as their lives improved, the colors in the illustrations remain muted except for the last page featuring the High School. I have not spent enough time thinking about how difficult it must be for refugees to become comfortable in a strange new culture. I am reminded of the refugees from Somalia who registered at a school where I was teaching and how difficult the learning curve must have been for them. I am also struck by the last text Amina’s father receives telling us the conflict in Syria is far from over. And while his daughter has experienced the horrors of war, he still tries to protect her. Can one ever escape? Leave – yes. Escape – I doubt it. The end pages that include more detail features photographs brings a reality that hits hard.
Title: Escape from Syria
Author: Helen Bates
Publisher: Firefly Books
Date Published: October 17, 2017
This is the third installment of September’s issue of My Take/Your Take. You can find the first and second installments on our site. Check back next week to see what books we’ve selected and to follow the conversation!