By Kirkus Reviews
A Syrian refugee story that disrupts stereotypes while tugging at readers’ heartstrings.
Sami is your average 13-year-old boy growing up in Damascus. He loves playing soccer and video games and hanging out with his friends. Even though the Syrian civil war has been going on for many years, Sami’s life has hardly changed…until the fateful day when his mother and sister are injured during a bombing at a shopping mall. Realizing they are no longer safe, Sami’s parents—a surgeon and a school principal—arrange to flee, seeking asylum in England. The journey is not an easy one, as Sami and his family face danger, intimidation, and discrimination as they try to reach England and rebuild their lives. Dassu carefully creates a story that embodies, through relatable and realistic characters, the spirit of Syrian refugees hoping to find safety and self-sufficiency. Descriptions of modern-day Damascus accurately blend tradition and modernity, religion and culture. The most compelling element is Sami’s voice as he struggles with not only becoming a refugee, but guilt over having asked his mother to go to the mall to pick up his soccer cleats on the day of the bombing. He authentically conveys the thoughts of a teenage boy trying to cope with anxiety and loss; likewise, the pride and hope of Syrian refugees are brought to life through Sami’s eyes.
Compelling, informative, hopeful.