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Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo - until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape. But what Afra has seen is so terrible she has gone blind, and so they must embark on a perilous journey through Turkey and Greece towards an uncertain future in Britain. On the way, Nuri is sustained by the knowledge that waiting for them is Mustafa, his cousin and business partner, who has started an apiary and is teaching fellow refugees in Yorkshire to keep bees.
As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls. Above all - and perhaps this is the hardest thing they face - they must journey to find each other again.
Moving, powerful, compassionate and beautifully written, The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a testament to the triumph of the human spirit. Told with deceptive simplicity, it is the kind of book that reminds us of the power of storytelling.
I had to take several breaks while reading The Beekeeper of Aleppo because it is a HEAVY read. It follows Nuri and Afra, husband and wife, as they flee Syria to join their family in the UK as refugees. The main bulk of the story takes place in Syria, where we see how their lives were before and after, and in Greece, where they stay for a while as part of their journey.
We also spend a lot of time in a B&B in England as Nuri and Afra apply for refugee status, and also try to come to terms with how their lives are now. I found these chapters very interesting as I know nothing about the process for seeking asylum in my country, but this book did a good job of starting to open my eyes to it.
I found the flashbacks as Nuri reflects their journey equally interesting, and equally as heartbreaking. It’s absolutely tragic, but a very insightful read. I could throw around positive adjectives all day because The Beekeeper of Aleppo really touches you.
While this isn’t an Own Voices book, the author has spent a lot of time volunteering at refugee camps and has heard from many different people who are travelling to Europe in search of a safer and better life. I’m very grateful that she decided to tell these stories, as I think a lot of us Westerners could learn a lot from this book.