The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri
The story of the flight of two refugees from Syria to Europe during the Syrian civil war.
Nuri and Afra live in Aleppo where Nuri had been a bee keeper with his cousin and business partner, Mustafa.
After their bee hives were burnt by the troops, Mustafa leaves to make his way to England. Conditions in Syria deteriorate and a bomb kills Nuri and Afra’s son and blinds Afra. Afra does not want to leave Syria as it is the place where their son died, but eventually the situation becomes so bad that they have to leave and start the journey through Turkey and Greece to the UK.
The story is told alternating between the life Nuri and Afra endured in Syria and their dangerous journey to the UK.
You know that what is described about the experience of refugees is accurate because the book is based on the author’s experience of volunteering in Athens at a Refugee centre where she hears the accounts of the asylum seekers.
I listened to the book rather than read it, as I normally listen to audio books by the pool in the summer and it was read by Art Malik. The reader is so important for an audio book and his voice was a joy to listen to.
The book uses an unusual literary technique which connects one chapter to another by a word. The last word of each chapter is continued with the title of the next chapter and that word begins the first sentence of the chapter. This is not as obvious as an audio book but gives a kind of flow to the chapter of events.
Briefly the book is about the impact of war on innocent citizens and the horror refugees endure…. how they lose their dignity and hope of safety but in the end, in this case, succeed in their aim to reach the UK and gain asylum.
In the end Nuri and Mustafa are re-united and Nuri discovers that Mustafa is up teaching refugees in Yorkshire how to bee-keep.
The book is a very emotional record of a dangerous journey - disturbing, heart breaking and haunting which cannot fail to change the way you think about refugees in the current situation.