January 13, 2018

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A Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi | SLJ Review

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redstarABAWI, Atia. A Land of Permanent Goodbyes. 288p. Philomel. Jan. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399546839.

Gr 7 Up –Told from the point of view of Destiny, this novel focuses on one Syrian family tragically affected by a senseless and brutal war. Tareq, the eldest son, along with his father and young sister, are the only members of their immediate family still alive after their village is bombed. The only practical means of survival is to flee their homeland for Turkey, Greece, and ultimately, Germany, to evade persecution and probable (if not inevitable) death. Abawi presents a gripping, heartbreaking story about the refugee crisis in Syria, and how all wars cruelly impact people, society, and nations. The author does not shy away from many of the barbaric acts of terrorism perpetrated against the anti-establishment Muslim citizens: beheadings followed by vacant-eyed human heads posted on metal spikes to terrorize nonbelievers into compliance. She contrasts this poignantly, memorably, and poetically with the endearing way she describes Tareq and his loving family. Several other characters are introduced. Alexia, an American on vacation in Greece, decides to stay in the country to help. Her story is an integral one as it merges with Tareq’s arrival, though the thread ends somewhat abruptly. Overall, Abawi skillfully places humanity enmeshed in war into two sides: the “hunters” who feed on the suffering and the “helpers” who lend a hand. VERDICT An inspiring, timely, and must-have account about the Syrian refugee disaster and the perils of all wars; best supplemented with nonfiction information for research purposes.–Etta Anton, Yeshiva of Central Queens, NY

This review was published in the School Library Journal December 2017 issue.

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