The beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri
Zaffre, 2019. ISBN: 9781785768934.
(Age: Senior secondary - Adult) Highly recommended. Lefteri tells the story of a Syrian couple, Nuri and Afra, traumatised by the destruction of their home and the death of their young son Sami, setting out on a path with other refugees to seek safety in another country offering some kind of hope of a normal life. Afra has been struck blind by the same bomb that killed their 5 year old son. She is dependent on Nuri to dress her, care for her, and find some kind of livelihood. Yet as we read on, we gradually come to realise that Nuri himself is a broken man, haunted by images and memories that will not let him rest.
The two of them cling to the hope of reuniting with another Syrian couple, close friends, Mustafa and Dahab, joint partners in their former bee-keeping venture in Syria, who have now found safety in the UK. Their dream is to care for bees together again in England. Bees are an amazing community that works together for the benefit of all.
Lefteri interweaves stories and experiences of other desperate refugees, people who shared their stories with her whilst working as a volunteer at a refugee centre in Athens. That experience stayed with her of people who had been through the most horrific of circumstances in their journey towards survival and renewal. As she says The beekeeper of Aleppo is 'about profound loss, but it is also about love and finding light'. It is to be hoped that her book will provide some greater understanding of the global refugee problem and the need for all people to open their hearts to caring about fellow human beings, who from no fault of their own are in desperate need of refuge and support.