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A graphic story of intense current events. From the pen of former Lebanon Star reporter Samya Kullab comes a breathtaking and hard-hitting story of one family's struggle to survive in the face of war, displacement, poverty and relocation. Escape from Syria is a fictionalized account that calls on real-life circumstances and true tales of refugee families to serve as a microc A graphic story of intense current events. From the pen of former Lebanon Star reporter Samya Kullab comes a breathtaking and hard-hitting story of one family's struggle to survive in the face of war, displacement, poverty and relocation. Escape from Syria is a fictionalized account that calls on real-life circumstances and true tales of refugee families to serve as a microcosm of the Syrian uprising and the war and refugee crisis that followed. The story spans six years in the lives of Walid, his wife Dalia, and their two children, Amina and Youssef. Forced to flee from Syria, they become asylum-seekers in Lebanon, and finally resettled refugees in the West. It is a story that has been replayed thousands of times by other families. When the family home in Aleppo is destroyed by a government-led bomb strike, Walid has no choice but to take his wife and children and flee their war-torn and much loved homeland. They struggle to survive in the wretched refugee camps of Lebanon, and when Youssef becomes fatally ill as a result of the poor hygienic conditions, his father is forced to take great personal risk to save his family. Walid's daughter, the young Amina, a whip-smart grade-A student, tells the story. As she witnesses firsthand the harsh realities that her family must endure if they are to survive -- swindling smugglers, treacherous ocean crossings, and jihadist militias -- she is forced to grow up very quickly in order to help her parents and brother. Kullab's narrative masterfully maps both the collapse and destruction of Syria, and the real-life tragedies faced by its citizens still today. The family's escape from their homeland makes for a harrowing tale, but with their safe arrival in the West it serves as a hopeful endnote to this ongoing worldwide crisis. Beautiful illustrations by Jackie Roche -- whose work on the viral web-comic, Syria's Climate Conflict, was seen prominently in Symboliamag. com, Upworthy.com and Motherjones.com, among others -- bring Kullab's words to life in stunning imagery that captures both the horror of war and the dignity of human will.


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A graphic story of intense current events. From the pen of former Lebanon Star reporter Samya Kullab comes a breathtaking and hard-hitting story of one family's struggle to survive in the face of war, displacement, poverty and relocation. Escape from Syria is a fictionalized account that calls on real-life circumstances and true tales of refugee families to serve as a microc A graphic story of intense current events. From the pen of former Lebanon Star reporter Samya Kullab comes a breathtaking and hard-hitting story of one family's struggle to survive in the face of war, displacement, poverty and relocation. Escape from Syria is a fictionalized account that calls on real-life circumstances and true tales of refugee families to serve as a microcosm of the Syrian uprising and the war and refugee crisis that followed. The story spans six years in the lives of Walid, his wife Dalia, and their two children, Amina and Youssef. Forced to flee from Syria, they become asylum-seekers in Lebanon, and finally resettled refugees in the West. It is a story that has been replayed thousands of times by other families. When the family home in Aleppo is destroyed by a government-led bomb strike, Walid has no choice but to take his wife and children and flee their war-torn and much loved homeland. They struggle to survive in the wretched refugee camps of Lebanon, and when Youssef becomes fatally ill as a result of the poor hygienic conditions, his father is forced to take great personal risk to save his family. Walid's daughter, the young Amina, a whip-smart grade-A student, tells the story. As she witnesses firsthand the harsh realities that her family must endure if they are to survive -- swindling smugglers, treacherous ocean crossings, and jihadist militias -- she is forced to grow up very quickly in order to help her parents and brother. Kullab's narrative masterfully maps both the collapse and destruction of Syria, and the real-life tragedies faced by its citizens still today. The family's escape from their homeland makes for a harrowing tale, but with their safe arrival in the West it serves as a hopeful endnote to this ongoing worldwide crisis. Beautiful illustrations by Jackie Roche -- whose work on the viral web-comic, Syria's Climate Conflict, was seen prominently in Symboliamag. com, Upworthy.com and Motherjones.com, among others -- bring Kullab's words to life in stunning imagery that captures both the horror of war and the dignity of human will.

30 review for Escape from Syria

  1. 4 out of 5

    vanessa

    4.5. I highly recommend this graphic novel about Syrian refugees, written by a journalist based out of Lebanon. The art is emotionally touching and conveys the family unit's struggles and hopes well. I loved that this took such a heavy situation and broke it down in a way that was easy to follow. It was short, but it wastes no pages: it was so informative and enlightening. It touched upon some things I knew, but best of all it taught me a lot of new information. 4.5. I highly recommend this graphic novel about Syrian refugees, written by a journalist based out of Lebanon. The art is emotionally touching and conveys the family unit's struggles and hopes well. I loved that this took such a heavy situation and broke it down in a way that was easy to follow. It was short, but it wastes no pages: it was so informative and enlightening. It touched upon some things I knew, but best of all it taught me a lot of new information.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Powerful fictionalized story of a Syrian refugee family, told from the perspective of the teenage daugther, Amina. Kullab is a noted journalist for multiple outlets in the Middle East (currently working in Iraq) and undoubtedly pulls this story from the scores of refugees she has met and interviewed over her years working in the region. Attractive art and useful maps, endnotes, and other resources as supplemental material. *Many thanks to my friend Nohemi for this recommendation.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Erica

    This graphic novel follows the tribulations of a Syrian family as told by the daughter who recounts the end of her family's livelihood in Aleppo, their years as refugees in Lebanon, and then the beginning of their lives as relocated Syrians in Canada. Her story isn't nearly as simple as that sentence. This graphic novel follows the tribulations of a Syrian family as told by the daughter who recounts the end of her family's livelihood in Aleppo, their years as refugees in Lebanon, and then the beginning of their lives as relocated Syrians in Canada. Her story isn't nearly as simple as that sentence.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bulent Alkanli

    Sad, but true. Need to have more of this printed, as we are left alone with 3,5 Million people in need, without any of the “civilised” nations feeling the urge of sharing responsibility.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Juwi

    4.5 stars Heartbreaking book that highlights the horrors of the war in Syria, the toll on refugees, what it means to be a refugee perpetually in limbo and having to depend on the humanity of others. Parents having their daughters get married so they can be safe is heartbreaking and the trauma that comes with being a refugee and losing your homeland and identity and sense of self. Then having to deal with racism and islamophobia (yes you get Christian Syrians too but they wouldn’t suffer as a res 4.5 stars Heartbreaking book that highlights the horrors of the war in Syria, the toll on refugees, what it means to be a refugee perpetually in limbo and having to depend on the humanity of others. Parents having their daughters get married so they can be safe is heartbreaking and the trauma that comes with being a refugee and losing your homeland and identity and sense of self. Then having to deal with racism and islamophobia (yes you get Christian Syrians too but they wouldn’t suffer as a result from their beliefs in a Western country). This book is necessary and accessible so kids 10 + can understand what is going on. Also highly recommend Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga. There are still plenty of refugees who don’t get to go abroad and have an opportunity to have a better life. 💔💔💔😔😔😔

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rahma

    This. Book. Is. So. Important. It is very approachable, informative, and makes it easy to learn about the Syrian war; I learned a lot. In addition to the subject matter, the artwork is fantastic in my opinion, and the book is very faithful when it comes to Muslim representation in books; I really appreciated that, because most books with “Muslim representation” end up screwing everything up because they aren’t researched well-enough. Overall, I highly recommend this graphic novel!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nohemi

    Where do I start? This fictionalized account of one Syrian family trying to find refuge elsewhere is a must read for everyone, and it should be in every school library. It explains what is happening in Syria, and also the world’s (lack of) reaction to it all. Escape from Syria” written by Samya Kullab, a journalist based in the Middle East, is a truly unforgettable experience.

  8. 4 out of 5

    K

    This book takes a half hour to read. In half an hour, Escape From Syria takes you into the intensity of the revolution and refugee experience. Some families in Syria were just trying to pursue normal life, living lives rich in intellectual pursuit, surrounded by extended family, sometimes even in the same multi-floor apartment building before revolution broke out. But because Syria had no freedom and no democracy, when the Arab Spring began in Arab lands, revolution naturally started to foment in This book takes a half hour to read. In half an hour, Escape From Syria takes you into the intensity of the revolution and refugee experience. Some families in Syria were just trying to pursue normal life, living lives rich in intellectual pursuit, surrounded by extended family, sometimes even in the same multi-floor apartment building before revolution broke out. But because Syria had no freedom and no democracy, when the Arab Spring began in Arab lands, revolution naturally started to foment in Syria. It was dealt with mercilessly by the regime in power. No reforms were allowed. Citizens serving in the Syrian Army were ordered to kill their own people and did so. Amina, a top female student, sees her life fall apart. Her family decides they must leave and they go to Lebanon. The author consistently shows the young reader just how hard it is to survive as a refugee. One way the author does this is by showing a monthly budget for refugee life and how income doesn't match expenses. Another way the author does this is by showing the anguish of a refugee family that needs medicine that will instantly heal their son, but what are they to do when they have no money to pay for that medicine? Another way the author did this was to show how young daughters, often as young as 13, were married off by their families in the camp because they had no possible way of protecting them. Another way the author shows the refugee experience is Amina's reaction to walking by windows of families living normal lives, just like she used to have, as if nothing has happened. This book helps children see the real deep impact for families around the world whose governments would rather retain power among a ruling elite than allow for more freedom and democracy. The author, a working journalist who reported on the refugee and migration crisis for years, backs up every situation described in her book with citations in the back. I say thank you to author Samya Kullab, for giving voice to the powerless. Thanks also to the rest of the publishing team that brought this book to the public.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Raina

    Fictionalized, ripped from life story about one journey away from Syria. Full-color illustrations that effectively tell the story. Plenty of context-exposition. 8 pages of endnotes, including photographs of the real stuff. Engaging, tragic, real, heartbreaking. Read with: A Land of Permanent Goodbyes Fictionalized, ripped from life story about one journey away from Syria. Full-color illustrations that effectively tell the story. Plenty of context-exposition. 8 pages of endnotes, including photographs of the real stuff. Engaging, tragic, real, heartbreaking. Read with: A Land of Permanent Goodbyes

  10. 4 out of 5

    A. David Lewis

    This book of heart, of hurt, and of humility is a must-read for anyone concerned with the conflict in Syria — or perhaps simply those who need to review their own privilege. Of all the graphic novels and stories I have read on Syria and its refugees, this both rang the truest and felt the most accessible. I cannot recommend it more highly.

  11. 5 out of 5

    The Reading Writing Puppet

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Very powerful and needed graphic novel. One thing that bothers me is the marrying off the young daughters... I’m almost 40 and can’t imagine being married, but to be married off at 9-14 is just sad for me. Those young girls deserve a future of their own choosing. But the illustrations were great and this type of stories are needed in today’s world.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Amy Layton

    Flashing back from present to past, Escape from Syria juxtaposes the different manners of living and existing in Canada and Aleppo.  Following a family from the war-ridden Aleppo and their eventual immigration, this book offers a narrative that has become all too real for many Syrians. With colorful illustrations, good graphics, and a fantastic storyline, this book takes your heart and tugs it.  It's emotional, strange, and overall an engaging, fictional account of what too many are experiencing Flashing back from present to past, Escape from Syria juxtaposes the different manners of living and existing in Canada and Aleppo.  Following a family from the war-ridden Aleppo and their eventual immigration, this book offers a narrative that has become all too real for many Syrians. With colorful illustrations, good graphics, and a fantastic storyline, this book takes your heart and tugs it.  It's emotional, strange, and overall an engaging, fictional account of what too many are experiencing right now. Review cross-listed here!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Joy

    The introduction and end notes give factual support the fictional account of a young Syrian refugee. Would be a great introduction to the current situation in Syria. Would also be a great conversation starter with current refugee students.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Garrett

    Based upon real research and reporting and backed up with references, this is a GN that belongs on a shelf with Palestine and Fax from Sarajevo. Heartbreaking and sad but an informative and necessary read, I recommend this to everyone needing an insight into Syria's current conditions the global factors that went into creating the situation. Based upon real research and reporting and backed up with references, this is a GN that belongs on a shelf with Palestine and Fax from Sarajevo. Heartbreaking and sad but an informative and necessary read, I recommend this to everyone needing an insight into Syria's current conditions the global factors that went into creating the situation.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    This is only my second graphic novel and it was an amazing one. The illustrations are beautiful and I learned so much about Syria. The history was embedded into the story and it makes me want to learn more about what's been happening in Syria. This is only my second graphic novel and it was an amazing one. The illustrations are beautiful and I learned so much about Syria. The history was embedded into the story and it makes me want to learn more about what's been happening in Syria.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Maddie

    An impactful and accessible way to to show the tragedy of Syria. The storyline is simple and covers the basics but I love the inclusion of further explanation in the back notes for those who want more backstory and detail into the references and events that occur throughout the book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tatiana

    For reasons I can’t explain, the Syrian Civil War has long tugged at my head and heart. It’s an unfathomable situation, unprecedented, and yet as a global people (particularly in the West), our aid has been too miniscule and intermittent for the displaced Syrian citizens fleeing terror. Since the war began in 2011 (some argue 2013), the plight of Syrian refugees has created a thriving sub-genre of literature. Samya Kullab, a former Lebanese reporter, adds to the pile with Escape from Syria, a gra For reasons I can’t explain, the Syrian Civil War has long tugged at my head and heart. It’s an unfathomable situation, unprecedented, and yet as a global people (particularly in the West), our aid has been too miniscule and intermittent for the displaced Syrian citizens fleeing terror. Since the war began in 2011 (some argue 2013), the plight of Syrian refugees has created a thriving sub-genre of literature. Samya Kullab, a former Lebanese reporter, adds to the pile with Escape from Syria, a graphic novel geared toward young adults. The story follows Amina and her family as their lives in Syria are uprooted. Eventually, they are forced to a refugee camp in Lebanon, and when the reality of returning to their homeland is cemented, they relocate to Canada. It is a universal tale, shared by many real-life refugees, the details staggering but accurate. I appreciate the truthful depiction of conditions in Syria and the refugee camps, even if it was very biased to Lebanese involvement. My issue with the graphic novel was structural. The leaps back and forth in the timeline confused; the male characters were drawn too similar, occasionally leading to more confusion; and even the characters’ dialogue was not distinct enough to differentiate. Overall, the content was strong and heart-achingly factual, but the package felt amateurish.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lily

    3.5 stars

  19. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    Short but powerful graphic novel. Good to pair with Refugee bu Gratz

  20. 4 out of 5

    Anna Goldberg

    An introduction to the conflict in Syria told in comics form for a young audience. This story was very simple, but useful as a teaching tool and empathy-building read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Dave Mevis

    These new nonfiction graphic novels are a great way to learn about hot topics and current events! Maybe somebody should slip some of these onto Trump's nightstand. These new nonfiction graphic novels are a great way to learn about hot topics and current events! Maybe somebody should slip some of these onto Trump's nightstand.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Becky Porter

    {free book from Firefly Books—all opinions are my own} This graphic novel made my heart ache! As a general rule, I am not a fan of graphic novels (they are too visually cluttered for my brain to handle), but this one was well-done. I feel so strongly that this topic—civil war and refugees—is not discussed enough in America, and this book rekindled my desire to at least share facts and spread the word. The illustrations are accurate without being too gruesome, and the storyline is packed with info {free book from Firefly Books—all opinions are my own} This graphic novel made my heart ache! As a general rule, I am not a fan of graphic novels (they are too visually cluttered for my brain to handle), but this one was well-done. I feel so strongly that this topic—civil war and refugees—is not discussed enough in America, and this book rekindled my desire to at least share facts and spread the word. The illustrations are accurate without being too gruesome, and the storyline is packed with information (if a bit cumbersome sometimes). Based on true stories of real Syrian refugees, ESCAPE FROM SYRIA could be read and discussed with children 10+.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    An informative and important read, but I wish it had been told in a linear fashion rather than one that hopped back-and-forth in time. I enjoyed the minimal drawing style that conveyed the realities and difficulties of Amina’s life, as well as the contrast of her urge to leave the country to be able to learn with her mother’s resistance to leave home.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rod Brown

    Unrelentingly depressing until a bittersweet happy ending that is revealed to be highly unlikely for the vast majority of Syrian refugees, this is a message book that is pretty typical for its sort, but has the bonus of simple but charming artwork, very readable lettering and a good balance of dialogue and text boxes.

  25. 5 out of 5

    McKenna

    This graphic novel is succinct and effective. It doesn’t beg for tears or pity, but bluntly shows what Syrians are experiencing in their own homes and while fleeing. It also effectively explains the crisis in a way that is simple and understandable. This would make a great read for tweens and teens who struggle to grapple the complex nature of the Syrian crisis, as well as adults.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Carla

    When a graphic novel's front and backmatter are the most interesting part of the text, that's a problem. When a graphic novel's front and backmatter are the most interesting part of the text, that's a problem.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Maggi Rohde

    The content is absolutely horrifying, but the format is too brief and simple for teens. This makes it a hard book to market. I would say teen or upper middle school.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Gee Dee

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Overall rating: 4.5/5 Main themes/tropes: Immigrant experiences, Life during wartime, Facing discrimination, Growing up too fast, child brides Plot: The story opens with the start of the bombing in 2013, which is a great hook and then jumps forward and backward in time to explain the political situation in Syria going back decades. The book is good about giving readers just enough information to understand the different factions without overwhelming them with too many details. It also completely s Overall rating: 4.5/5 Main themes/tropes: Immigrant experiences, Life during wartime, Facing discrimination, Growing up too fast, child brides Plot: The story opens with the start of the bombing in 2013, which is a great hook and then jumps forward and backward in time to explain the political situation in Syria going back decades. The book is good about giving readers just enough information to understand the different factions without overwhelming them with too many details. It also completely sells the misery the family experiences in the face of crippling debt and the myriad tiny daily challenges that come with emigrating halfway around the world. The mother's realization that Syria is a different country and that they really can't go back is a particularly great and well-earned emotional moment. Characters: The story is really Amina's, and her concerns are relatable and age appropriate, especially as she has to leave school and work for money for the family, and has to grow up too fast. One thing I wish had been included was a glimpse into how she transitioned from having adult burdens in Lebanon to being a teenager in school again once they arrived in Canada. All of the main family characters are wonderfully fleshed out with the exception of Amina's little brother Youssef whose main character arc is that he gets sick –> is sick –> gets better. Art: The art is colorful and vibrant. The faces could be more expressive, but overall the characters were well-defined. 5 Reasons to read it: • Great insight into life inside refugee camps, including the unending tension and boredom • Amina's character is going to stick with you • Gives identities to Syrian refugees • Gives a good summary of events in Syria without overwhelming the reader with too many details • Captures the devastation of losing your home and your homeland

  29. 4 out of 5

    Vena

    Number of stars: 5 out of 5 stars Genre: Graphic novel based on true events Best for ages: 14+ Warnings: N/A Favorite quote: But I've realized our suffering isn't unique. Life pushes on for us like it does everyone.' Back cover summary: In 2011, against the backdrop if the Arab spring, Syria's citizens call for revolution. Rebel groups are formed to overthrow dictatorial president Bashar al-Assad, who responds by plunging the nation into a years-long civil war. Aleppo, Syria's most populous city, bec Number of stars: 5 out of 5 stars Genre: Graphic novel based on true events Best for ages: 14+ Warnings: N/A Favorite quote: But I've realized our suffering isn't unique. Life pushes on for us like it does everyone.' Back cover summary: In 2011, against the backdrop if the Arab spring, Syria's citizens call for revolution. Rebel groups are formed to overthrow dictatorial president Bashar al-Assad, who responds by plunging the nation into a years-long civil war. Aleppo, Syria's most populous city, becomes the main battleground and the epicenter of the world's refugee crisis. This is where we meet the family of Walid, Dalia, Amina and Youssef. The young Amina, a whip-smart grade-A student, narrates her family's odyssey after a government air strike destroys their home. Thrust into chaos, her family is forced to endure wretched refugee camps, risk treacherous ocean crossings and ultimately escape the terror of opportunistic jihadist militias. Samya Kullab's masterful narrative maps both the collapse and destruction of Syria, as well as the real-life tragedies faced by its citizens still today. Escape from Syria is a gripping portrait of courage and determination in the face of this ongoing world crisis. My initial thoughts: Imagine growing up in a country where you are surrounded by war. You try to live your life as normally as possible- try to ignore the distant bombings, the constant news casts and most often the pain that comes with living in such a divided country. You do the only thing you can as a kid: hope that everything turns out well in the end, and just keep moving on. You almost expect something like this to happen, but you never expected it would happen to you. This is the life of main character Amina, and her family living in Syria. This graphic novel depicts fictional Amina's life in a thought-provoking and informative manner. All the facts are true, yet at times you won't want to believe they are. That only halfway across the Earth, life is the complete opposite. Sumya Kullab creates a masterpiece of a tale that informs people of a world they might have never known about. My positive thoughts: I honestly don't have words to describe such a novel. From the gorgeous, yet thought-provoking pictures, to dialogue that will surely make you emotional, to true facts that seem so unreal you won't want to believe it, Escape from Syria is truly a masterpiece. Following Amina and her family through the span of a couple years, you will begin to become very infested in their safety and wellbeing. You will hope when they feel hope, comfort when they are comfort and even shed a tear when they mourn. My negative thoughts: N/A My final thoughts: A beautiful graphic novel that will make you want to learn more about the situation going on in Syria. About what the innocent citizens are going through, the scale of the war, and the vast corruption of Syria's government. Recommended to an older audience for possible graphic images and text.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Stokes

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 4.5 stars A young teenage girl and her family are forced to flee their home country of Syria when their hometown is bombed. The people of Syria are unhappy with their current ruler and want democratic elections to choose a new one. Naturally, the current ruler is not in favor of this system and has raised an army that punishes dissidents. The country is in a state of civil war. Amina and her family became refugees in Lebanon for 2 years, living in poverty, unable to find work most of the time. Am 4.5 stars A young teenage girl and her family are forced to flee their home country of Syria when their hometown is bombed. The people of Syria are unhappy with their current ruler and want democratic elections to choose a new one. Naturally, the current ruler is not in favor of this system and has raised an army that punishes dissidents. The country is in a state of civil war. Amina and her family became refugees in Lebanon for 2 years, living in poverty, unable to find work most of the time. Amina had to drop out of school in order to work to help feed her family. Her younger brother contracted meningitis and the family had to get his medicine on credit. Her father visits a loan shark to get the money to pay a smuggler to get him to Germany and is cheated by the smuggler, but still has to repay the loan. When Amina tells an aid worker how she is afraid for her father's life, the family is put on a list for relocation to Canada. They go, but have a hard time assimilating and learning the language. Amina is finally able to go back to school. It is hard for her parents - her mother, especially - to give up on the idea of eventually returning to Syria, their home. I admit, I was not at all familiar with the Syrian refugee crisis. After having read this fictional tale based on fact, I admire the bravery of the refugees. How hard it must be to leave your home, your family, neighbors, job, culture, and go to a place where you don't know the language, money system, or what is expected of you. These people are fleeing for their lives and they need help. This book presents their plight in an easy-to-understand manner.

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