Boy, Everywhere

By Booklist

Sami is an ordinary eighth-grader who loves playing football and PlayStation with his best friend. That will likely sound familiar to many readers of this novel, but there's a difference: Sami lives in Damascus, Syria, as it's plunging into civil war. Smoke billowing in the distance is embedded into everyday life, but it isn't until Sami's mom and young sister are almost killed that the danger hits home. With the war inching closer to their city, the al-Hafez family flee their comfortable life in Damascus to seek refuge in the UK—that is, if the journey doesn't break them first. This raw, heartbreaking middle-grade debut faces the Syrian refugee crisis head-on. Many will recall the horrifying images from the Syrian refugee crisis, from the dusty rubble of once-bustling cities to the drowned victims who washed up on the Turkish coast. Dassu knits those realities into the story of the al-Hafez family, giving voice to countless refugees who didn't want to leave their homeland but were left no choice.The pace is fast; the family goes from being well-off one moment to having no status the next. Seeking asylum, held in a detention center, experiencing homelessness—the blows are unabating, but they're nevertheless interspersed with small joys. This isn't an easy read, but it's an absolutely essential one.