A Land of Permanent Goodbyes

Atia Abawi. Philomel, $17.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-399-54683-9
In this gripping and heartrending novel, Abawi (The Secret Sky) follows a family of Syrian refugees, whose lives are changed when one of the feared “bombs that fell indiscriminately from the sky” destroys their apartment building. Teenage Tareq, his father, and his four-year-old sister, Susan, survive, but his mother, grandmother, and three other siblings die in the blast. All three flee the country, joining the endless stream of refugees desperately seeking safety. Destiny itself serves as an omniscient narrator, a device that helps to buffer readers from the relentless terror, hunger, and danger plaguing Tareq’s family: “To me, you are all from the same world. You have the same hearts, needs, wants and desires.” As the family journeys through Syria, Turkey, Greece, and Macedonia on their way to Germany, its configuration varies, most poignantly when Fayed pays smugglers to take his children in a perilously overcrowded boat bound for Greece. Newfound friendships and stories of volunteers pulling refugees from the Aegean provide elements of hope in this upsetting yet beautifully rendered portrayal of an ongoing humanitarian crisis. Ages 12–up. Agent: Stephen Barbara, Inkwell Management. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/13/2017
Release date: 01/23/2018
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-399-54685-3
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