Author Christy Lefteri is a daughter of refugees, and spent several summers volunteering with refugees in Greece. There is no doubt she beautifully and accurately taps into the suffering of her characters with a heartfelt storytelling of the emotional plight of Syrian refugees in The Beekeeper of Aleppo. This emotional story of a once happy couple shows the toll war takes on a human’s soul, and embraces the hope that exists, even in the worst of circumstances.
Finding it difficult to walk away from their treasured memories of family and country, Nuri and Afra must leave the civil war in Syria. Nuri, a dedicated beekeeper, feels pressure to make it safely to England. His wife, Afra, an accomplished artist who was blinded during an explosion that tragically killed their young son, has less motivation. Amidst residuals of emotional trauma, Nuri must be Afra’s eyes and her caretaker as they embark on this necessary, yet dreaded trip.
Part of the story is about how in 2015, the couple makes the life threatening journey to a seaside village in England. Dealing with dangerous sea crossings and smugglers, they venture to safety through Turkey and Greece. The other part, is the time they spend in a rooming house in England, waiting for asylum. Nuria and Afra cope with their personal demons in their own separate ways, often getting caught up in their thoughts. “Sometimes we create such powerful illusions, so that we do not get lost in the darkness.”
Both characters experience PTSD and feels disconnected when it comes to personal relationships. Many of their fears are due to traumatic experiences and even though Afra is the one without sight, there are times where they both lose their vision.
The Syrians in The Beekeeper of Aleppo. experienced tragedy, and lost so much when they escaped their beloved homeland, which became a war zone. Their search for freedom and safety was emotionally and physically tragic and deeply painful, yet I fully and completely loved this book. Christy Lefteri’s research and experiences have allowed her to get to the heart of the human emotions. With vivid prose and insight, she takes us to the lowest point of desperation while simultaneously revealing the hope that exists, even when we have lost everything. I highly recommend this book!
For more books I love with related topic:
Korean Refugees – If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim
Rwandan Refugees – The Girl Who Smile Beads by Clemantine Wamariya
Vietnamese Refugees – Butterfly Yellow by Thanhhá Lai
About the Author:
Christy Lefteri was born in London in 1980 to Greek Cypriot parents who moved to London in 1974 during the Turkish invasion. She completed a degree in English and a Masters in creative writing at Brunel University. She taught English to foreign students and then became a secondary school teacher before leaving to pursue a PhD and to write. She is also studying to become a psychotherapist.