Giving life to the distressingly familiar images from the media, journalist and writer Samar Yazbek takes us to the heart of the Syria of the headlines and soundbites. Syrian herself, she was forced to flee in 2011, but recounts in this story her three trips back to her homeland in 2012-13 to help set up women's groups.
Chronicling the passage of the civil war from its peaceful uprising for a secular democracy to the hijacking of the war by foreign fighters, this harrowing account of the day-to-day suffering of the Syrian people is distinguished by allowing all sides to speak for themselves.
This is an important story of our time from the pen of a gifted narrator.
The timing of this book for our group was not good as we were in Covid-19 lock-down and many felt there was enough to contend with in their personal lives. However the book told a factual story of what is still happening in troubled Syria and was true to form from what we hear on the news. It certainly helped our understanding of the war in that area. It was interesting to learn how each of our readers coped with reading about such a traumatic subject. Not a book to be enjoyed, but a worthwhile read for most.
Our group appreciated the factual information we gained from the book. Our sympathies for the affected Syrians certainly increased with this knowledge. The writing style did not impress us greatly.
This book really helped us to understand the Syrian conflict, and we have each found our listening to the news more meaningful. We were saddened and angry at what each faction is doing to the 'Syrians'. Good discussion about the Syrian conflict - not so much about the book and its author, except to admire her bravery.
Harrowing and difficult to read but we were grateful for the insight into what is going on in Syria, and some of the background to it. Well done!
While we found the book insightful, we all found it hard-going and some in the group didn't finish it.
Everyone was very humbled by the tragedy and horror of what is happening in Syria. A 'must' read.
Generated great discussion which ended up being one on immigration/refugee numbers we allow into NZ. We felt there was a bit of repetition, but the story needed to be told. Not an enjoyable book - but a necessary one. We wondered why the "West" is doing so little.
A challenging book which most of the group found repetitive and depressing. It did bring to light some facts about Syria previously not known, and the horrors of life for the remaining inhabitants, but an unresolvable situation.
A very topical book, and it was incredible to be reading it while terrible news was coming from the area. One of our members had visited Syria 4 months after the revolution began, and she found it really interesting, and also brought photos to show us places that have now been destroyed. A heart-breaking, distressing story, which one member could not bear to read, but we discussed it well and we are now much more aware of how complex the situation is.
A heart wrenching, raw account of the state of affairs in Syria - there is little hope of a resolution in the near future. A troubling read but a well written account.
We were all disappointed by this book and found it difficult to read, not just because of the disturbing content, but because it was so disjointed and lacked a narrative story. We had all hoped to learn more about the Syrian conflict, but were left confused and with no better understanding of the crisis. We struggled to relate to the author and questioned her motives - she talked often of the photographs she took, but shared none in the book. On a positive note, the book notes are excellent. We suggest reading these before the book as they provide a clear explanation of the factions involved.
The majority of the group found the content disturbing and distressing, some couldn't complete reading. We questioned motives, and admired resiliance. We were affected by the personal narratives, but found the accounts disjointed and somewhat confusing. Ultimately the author paid the price of her involvement with the ugliness of war buried deep in her chest. Quote, "They went to the revolution full of dreams of justice and freedom. They paid the price of their miscarried dreams heavily in blood". This says it all.