Escape from Aleppo, Reviewed by Claire Rinterknecht, 13

Book Reviews  /   /  By Sarah Ainsworth
Stone Soup Magazine
May 2019

Nadia’s family had a plan. If ever their house was bombed they were supposed to meet at the dentist’s office. But Nadia is terrified of leaving her house because she already knows what it feels like to live through a bombing and the shrapnell in her leg is a constant reminder. So when her sister wakes her up one night to leave because the bombing is getting close Nadia hesitates a moment too long and is thrown out the front door by the force of the bomb. Her family leaves her for dead.

But she’s not dead and when she regains consciousness she makes her way to the dentist’s office where she finds a note from her grandmother saying they are on the way to Turkey. So Nadia sets out on the long journey alone. But she doesn’t stay lonely for long. Along the way she meets an old man with many identities and his donkey, Jamila. They travel together to the old man’s friend’s house where they meet two orphaned boys who join them. But hiding from the Syrian Army, the rebel groups, bombers and snipers make their journey to the border very long and perilous.

Last year I made a friend who was Syrian and who, five years before had fled from the war when her kitchen was bombed. This book helped me understand a little better what she went through and what other refugees are still going through today.

I did not enjoy this book very much because I did not like the style of writing and it was very hard to like the main character, Nadia. She was a one dimensional character who didn’t have much personality. She was self absorbed and did not seem to realise that having perfect nails in the middle of a warring country did not matter. However, by the end of the book she became more likeable but I never really liked her enough to worry about whether she would get to the border. Even though I did not like the main character or the style of writing, Escape from Aleppo gave me a clearer picture of what is happening in Syria. I also learned a lot about Syrian culture and how and why the war started in the first place. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn about what is happening in Syria but not to someone who wants a good story with a strong main character.

Escape from Aleppo by N.H. Senzai. Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, 2018. Buy the book here and support Children’s Art Foundation-Stone Soup in the process!

Have you read this book? Or do you plan on reading it? If so, comment below!

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