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A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: One Refugee's Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  3,754 ratings  ·  718 reviews
Doaa and her family leave war-torn Syria for Egypt where the climate is becoming politically unstable and increasingly dangerous. She meets and falls in love with Bassem, a former Free Syrian Army fighter and together they decide to leave behind the hardship and harassment they face in Egypt to flee for Europe, joining the ranks of the thousands of refugees who make the ...more
Hardcover, 276 pages
Published January 24th 2017 by Flatiron Books
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Erin Yes. It was researched by Melissa Fleming, chief spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.…moreYes. It was researched by Melissa Fleming, chief spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (less)

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Average rating 4.33  · 
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 ·  3,754 ratings  ·  718 reviews

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Mariah Roze
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Mariah Roze by: Flatiron Books
I received this book for an honest review. I am so glad I agreed to reading this book, because this story was amazing!! I highly suggest this book to everyone!!!!

This is a true story about a refugees' experiences and life trying to get freedom.

Doaa and her family leave Syria due to all the fighting and go to Egypt. At first Egypt was a great move but then the country became politically unstable and increasingly dangerous. When in Egypt she meets her future fiancé Bassem. Who is former Free
Todd Coburn
Dec 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: misc
Wow. That is the word that still echoes in my head a half hour after reading her story.

Deep sadness. That is the feeling in my heart for what Doaa and her family and loved ones had to endure.

Anger. That is what wells up in my throat at people who would beseige a city of men, women and children and pummel them into submission simply because they are suspected of voicing their disapproval of their government.

Rage. This is what I feel towards those who bully, threaten, intimidate and abuse people
Mar 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Doaa's story itself is heartbreaking and deserves to be told, there is no doubt about it. But I feel like Fleming was possibly the wrong person to tell it. There was a curious sense of detachment throughout most of the telling, as if the author was simply reciting a journalistic account. I don't know how else to describe it. I understand the passion that she felt for telling this story to bring to light the plight of refugees; I am certain that she cares deeply.

Still, don't let my lower rating
Sep 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Mariah, Diversity Group
Doaa Al Zamel’s story of her rescue with two small children in her care after a ship rammed her boat filled with migrants fleeing Egypt fills us with horror and disbelief. Of a boat holding 500 people, eleven survived.

Even before the cruelty of rival smugglers (I only assume that’s who they were), Doaa’s life was filled with harsh treatment and a constant threat of kidnapping or physical abuse at the hands of strangers. Forced to leave Syria as a seventeen-year-old when government forces
Amanda Warner
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites

Heart wrenching. Powerful. Eye opening.

I couldn't put this book down!

If you want to put a face to the Syrian refugee crisis, read this book. It's a rare, close-up into the life of a Syrian refugee, Doaa, a brave young girl who survived insurmountable odds.

This is a MUST READ.

(Thank you, Doaa, for letting us hear your story. I wish you peace and healing.)
aPriL does feral sometimes
‘A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea’ is a revealing insider story of a nineteen-year-old Syrian refugee - Doaa Al Zamel.

Quoted from page 3:

“Six-year-old Doaa couldn’t remember any moment when she’d ever been alone. She lived with her parents and five sisters in a single room in her grandfather’s two-story house. Her father’s three brothers and their families occupied the other rooms, and each moment of Doaa’s life was filled with relatives: She slept side by side with her sisters, ate communal
Apr 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is why I read. I want the books I read to change me or move me in some way and this one accomplished both of those things. I have always been a big supporter of people who are displaced and seeking asylum, but after reading this book the word refugee will never have the same meaning for me. This book was heart-wrenching, moving and yet was also very informative. This is a book that anyone interested in current events such as the war in Syria, the ramifications of the Arab Spring, and
Im astounded by all the high ratings.

A very interesting story, but poorly told. I would probably read another authors rendition of Doaa's story. Frankly, Fleming's sucked. It was as though she had written it for children.

Bassem (fiancé) seemed manipulative to me. I did not find him romantic one bit.

I was horrified by the cruelty of those who purposely destroyed the boat and killed people for fun. They'd probably get on well with Trump.

"The simple truth is that refugees would not risk their lives
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was hesitant to read this book, but I'm glad I did. Seeing the Syrian conflict and resulting refugee crisis from the perspective of one family and one young woman in particular, made the situation clear and more poignant. It's a story that I think everyone needs to hear.

The shorter version can be found in the TED talk that lead to Ms. Fleming's book:

A few things are different (I'm assuming she uncovered different information as she interviewed furthur
Sheri Vincent
Dec 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
I was a Goodread winner for this book. The journey of Doaa (and her family) is amazing and heart wrenching. I cannot imagine what it would be like to live in fear every day and the horror of everything this family has had to endure. To top everything.........was the horror of Doaa being in the sea for so long surrounded by death and watching her best friend/fiancée die. There is no way I can even comprehend such a horrific act. I am truly honored to have read this story. I am in awe of the ...more
Ain Ashura
May 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physical-books
"I think that the most vulnerable people on earth are also the most resilient people on earth. They're incredible survivors. If you give them a little bit - and that's all their asking, not just shelter and food, but the dignity of being able to restart their lives - and you have a very powerful group of people who are interested in peace, they're interested in going back and rebuilding their country and contributing to where they are."
Nov 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Today, Thanksgiving in the USA, I do realize how much I have for which to be thankful. And I did learn much from reading this book, especially about the plight of the refugees of Syria and the need to address this massive humanity issue. And let's just hope President Trump does the right thing. But back to the book: when Doaa and Bassem are told by a smuggler they will be taken aboard a cruise liner for their trip from Egypt to Italy: I had 3 thoughts: 1) the smuggler is lying, how can Doaa and ...more
enqi ☁️✨
The perilous journey refugees take in order to reach safety in Europe often leads to despair and death. But we put our lives in the hands of cruel and merciless smugglers because we have no other choice. We have been confronted with the horrors of war and the indignity of losing our homes. Our only wish is to live in peace. We are not terrorists. We are human beings just like you. We have hearts that feel, yearn, love, and hurt.

Harrowing and gripping, A Hope More Powerful than the Sea is a
Dec 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaway-wins
Very heart-wrenching story. Interesting insight into the lives of others less fortunate. Kudos to Doaa for her resiliency.

3.5 stars .... the story was riveting and important to read, but the writing wasn't superb.
May Massijeh
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
The power of storytelling .... When you give the crisis a face ... a personality .... a character ... the way you see the world will never be the same.
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow. This book is hard to read because of the difficult circumstances of Doaa, and so many modern refugees. It is an amazing story that really explains what is happening in Syria.
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very sad and depressing, but this book taught me to thank God for what he has given me and be grateful. I also have a newfound respect for refugees.
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
wow. I'm glad I read this book but it unfortunately is just one of so many sad and horrible stories from Syria. The scary part is that parts of the book matches stories told by my students. (Thankfully not the boat escape)I'm learning so much from them and their resilience is amazing just like Doaa's in the book. I feel honored to have won this book in a Goodreads giveaway.
Oct 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
My first book about Syrian refugees. What a shocking story. Couldn't stop reading it. Especially the part in the water...
Learned a lot about Syria, Syrian people, habits, life, love, survival...
The most beautiful thing is how much all those people who had to leave miss Syria and their life there. It was so much different to live somewhere else compared to your homeland. No real friends, especially not when people in Egypt started to experience political instability, employment problems...
Kitty B
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If the bricks and mortar of the fallen cities of Syria, the grains of sand on the beaches of Egypt and the water of the Mediterranean could speak, this is one of the stories they might tell. For they have borne witness to the plight of hundreds of thousands of refugees like Doaa. But hers is a unique story of courage and perseverance in the face of so much conflict, destruction and loss. This book is written by the chief spokesperson for the UNHCR and is also an interesting insight into the work ...more
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a MUST read. I have read fiction pieces about the struggles of leaving warring countries, of being refugees. But this nonfiction piece hit home. I know students and friends with these names. I know students and friends who have family members who have walked this road. If you want to understand? READ.
Becki Iverson
Mar 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Syrian refugee crisis is definitely one of the defining moments of our times, and I think history is going to judge the world quite harshly for how little we've done to help the people fleeing crisis in Syria. This book is wonderful because it gives such a close look inside the crisis and truly humanizes it through Doaa's story. I wish this had been told by Doaa herself rather in third person - it feels a little disingenuous to have such a narrative told through the filter of a Western ...more
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was ridiculously hard to read. The story of a Syrian refugee who, in an attempt to escape to Europe, ends up nearly dying in a shipwreck and struggling to save two little girls, the same ages as my daughters. It's heartbreaking. If I had a way to make everyone in the west read this book, I would. People desperately need to be able to see refugees as people with tragic and difficult stories, as people who need our help.
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Because the suffering and despair that push refugees to flee their homes and risk their lives can only be tremendous, it is expected that a book memorializing the story of one such woman must be harrowing. Doaa Al Zamel’s is exactly that, but it is also an incredibly accessible primer on what life was like in part of Syria before the war started, the excitement that the Arab Spring brought, and the realities of suffering that families and communities have been made to endure both in the war zone ...more
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: nonfiction
You have no idea how good you have it. No idea. Read this book, be inspired and heartbroken by Doaa's story, and remember to never lump a group of people into one category just because it's the easiest thing to do.

Favorite quotes: "The government she had grown up wanting to serve as a policewoman was now shooting its own people, the people from her grandfather's neighborhood. She realized that everything she'd grown up believing about her country was wrong."

"Catching her breath, Doaa was
Perhaps no one knows the meaning of resilience more than Doaa Al Zamel. As a Syrian refugee in an unstable Egypt, she was forced to run once the Egyptian government collapsed—but this time, she set her sights on Europe. A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea is an unbelievable story of incredible strength. For our entire review, and books similar to this one, click here!
Apr 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Such a powerful, heartbreaking story. A harrowing insight into the trauma that pushes refugees to flee their homes and the horrors they suffer in doing so. I really wish the editorial board of the Daily Mail could be made to read this.
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Review to come.
S.L. Beaumont
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Young Syrian refugee Doaa's story is heartbreaking and powerful. Highly recommended.
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: teenager and up
I have this book on my nook. It is a MUST READ. This book is an amazing true story of a refugee from Syria. It gave me a perspective of what it is like to be a modern day refugee and broke my heart. Everyone should read this book to become more familiar with the refugee crisis going on that we know little about. I highly recommend it and hope I can get my teen daughters to read it. Wow!

There is also a TED talk the author did that I'm going to listen too. I believe she did it prior to writing the
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I lead communications for the United High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). For my job, I travel to war zones and refugee camps to give voice to the millions of people forcibly displaced from their homes. I told one remarkable refugee story on the TED stage: about an extraordinary young Syrian woman who, with the baby she saved, was one of the only survivors of a boat ...more
“By the end of 2014, UNHCR would record close to 60 million forcibly displaced people, 8 million more than in the previous year. Half of those were children. Every day that year, on average, 42,500 people became refugees, asylum seekers, or internally displaced, a fourfold increase in just four years.” 4 likes
“She had lost the most precious person in her life and she wanted to die with him. She imagined letting herself slip through the inflatable ring and into the sea with Bassem. But then she felt Malak’s tiny arms around her neck and realized that she alone was responsible for this child (206)” 1 likes
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