From the time he was a young child, music has always been an integral part of Aeham Ahmad's life. With the arrival of the chaos and horror of the Syrian civil war, it is the gift of music that he offers the people around him as their homes are reduced to rubble and normal life becomes a distant memory. Playing his piano in the war-torn streets becomes an act of defiance and a symbol of resistance, and remains so, even after he and his family become refugees in Germany.
Simply written and humbly told, this is an enthralling account of the lives of ordinary people caught up in conflict and the power of music to bring hope and connection in the darkest of circumstances.
Top book. Learnt so much about the world of the Middle East.
This book generated a robust discussion. The background of Syria and its ongoing civil war and how the residents of Yarmouth coped with the starvation were amazing insights for the group. There was some criticism of the fact that it was ghost written and many felt this created a distance between Ahmad and the reader. The power of music and how it saved the entire family by providing an escape to Germany after Ahmad had become well known on social media. The details of the starvation of those in Yarmouth were harrowing and the entrepreneurial nature of Ahmad selling falafels came out.
A captivating book to be remembered for a long time.
We all agreed this book is compelling, memorable, and haunting. It personalises refugee situations and the cruel futility of war.
Everyone enjoyed the read. Good to get a first hand perspective of the horror of war.
Easy to read and narrative follows logically. Highly recommend this book for an understanding of the impact of war and being a refugee.
Everyone enjoyed this book. It was really informative, gripping, inspiring and educational. Highly recommended.
The book was enjoyed by our members. A harrowing but uplifting story about the importance of family, music, courage, and ambition for a better life.
Well enjoyed by all, but a story of such hardship.
A depressing read. Man's inhumanity to man. We warmed to Aeham and his blind father and their determination to overcome difficulties. The fact that this horror continues in endless countries with corrupt, utterly ruthless regimes leaves little room for hope.
This was the greatest book! Everyone enjoyed it and either googled him or YouTubed him - great discussion. Once again reminded us all how lucky we are. We all felt that someone had his back and was watching over him - certainly made us all think.
Inspirational. Harrowing. Easy read. Highly educational. An insight into a refugee's life.
Everyone in our group enjoyed this book and would recommend it. Soul searching and graphic account of a person caught up in a conflict in which the common person has no control. Story of courage, perseverance , loyalty and honesty. Great discussion.
We would really recommend this book - it is a powerful real story that needs to be told. The style of writing is journalistic - however it's very hard to rate the experience of another person's life. We loved the stories of his family and his father particularly, who was an inspiring man. Long discussions had about the refugee world plight.
A really good read. A moving story, sensitively told. We learned a lot!
A story of resilience and hope enjoyed by everyone, if "enjoyed" is even the right word.
A wonderful book, especially so because of all the supportive videos one can view online to fill in any gaps one may have in the reading. Aeham comes across as such a wonderfully humane person, despite the multiple difficulties in his life, that one spends a lot of time hoping that the end will be positive (Spoiler alert - he seems pretty happy in Europe, and living a far safer life!).
We were pleased to learn more about the complications of the Syrian war and the siege of Yarmouk. Admittedly, much was left out of Aeham's account, but we admired his character. The tension of his escape was well portrayed, and the feeling of powerlessness felt by refugees and separated families. Worthwhile!!
An interesting book which the majority would recommend to other readers. Many new insights about the power of music, the life of refugees and the uplifting energy of hope and love were mentioned.
All enjoyed this book.
The group generally enjoyed the book - even with the dreadful situations. They thought the author was a kind, resourceful person, whose family were supportive and the father was a great teacher. We all really knew very little about Syria and its problems. It was a lesson for us all.
Everyone enjoyed this book but found some sections harrowing. Everyone agreed that it gave a better perspective of the migrants travelling to Europe as a result of the Syrian war. Some had viewed the YouTube clips of Aeham playing the piano in Yarmouk and Europe which help visualize different aspects of his life.
We all found this book an inspiring story of "a good man", sticking to his principles despite unbelievably hard circumstances.
Glad to have read it. Learned a lot about Syria/Palestine. Found it enlightening.
All members of the group appreciated reading this book. It gave us an insight into the life of refugees that is not obvious in the usual news outlets. The story is detailed and obviously told by a man of Aeham's culture. We could not understand how he could leave his wife and children behind. Overall there was a lack of emotion in the telling of the story but this may have been because it has been through the ghost writers and translators. Aeham was one of the lucky ones. But we do wonder how he felt about women being his salvation.
Challenging. Much discussion about subtle shifts through ghost writing and the translation process.
Well-written story. Engaging - what happens next Insightful about surviving through an event we recalling hearing of.
The group enjoyed the book very much; many found it very educational on the Syrian crisis. The questions were very pertinent and well-written, and prompted good discussion.
Most in the group enjoyed the book, as most had a background understanding of the civil war.
This book is written in a very pedestrian style and with very little emotion, in telling a sad and often shocking story of one man's life in Syria, from his birth through his experiences during the civl war culminating in his escape to Germany and subsequent life there.We read it just as the world was reminded that the war in Syria is now 10 years old and Ahmed is just one of hundreds of thousands of refugees. A story of suffering, persistence, hope, and the power of music.
We found it a fascinating account of one talented man's battle to survive and help others. His humility was very moving as was the guilt he carried.