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Homes: A Refugee Story

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  5,871 ratings  ·  728 reviews
In 2010, the al Rabeeah family left their home in Iraq in hope of a safer life. They moved to Homs, in Syria — just before the Syrian civil war broke out.

Abu Bakr, one of eight children, was ten years old when the violence began on the streets around him: car bombings, attacks on his mosque and school, firebombs late at night. Homes tells of the strange juxtapositions of
Paperback, 220 pages
Published May 1st 2018 by Freehand Books
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Sherry My daughter's junior high school has a therapy dog who belongs to one of the teachers and he is always there for anyone who needs a little bit of help…moreMy daughter's junior high school has a therapy dog who belongs to one of the teachers and he is always there for anyone who needs a little bit of help in their day. In this case, dealing with a student who was new to the country, didn't speak the language, and who came from a country in turmoil, having a therapy dog was probably very soothing.(less)

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 ·  5,871 ratings  ·  728 reviews

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Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is not a book. This is an achievement.

For every person who doesn't understand the global refugee crisis or the hate that drives policies to close borders, this book is an eye-opener.

For every person that has survived war and is trying to find a safe home for their children, this is a book of hope.

For every person from Edmonton who lives overseas as an English teacher, this story will bring tears of pride to your eyes. Because Canada knows our responsibility to accept people running from
HOMES: A REFUGEE STORY by Abu Baker Al Rabeeah with Winnie Yeung
is a charming and warm-hearted book. It is a refugee story like no other.
In 2010, the al Rabeeah family left their home in Iraq in hopes of a safer life. They moved to Homs, Syria.
Abu Bakr, one of eight children, was ten years old when the civil war broke out on the streets around him. HOMES is his remarkable true story of growing up in a war zone and ultimately finding safety in Canada. With his parent's blessing, Abu Bakr told
may ❀
!!!!!this book wrecked me!!!!!

homes is the story of a young boy as he and his family flee from their home country of iraq to syria in attempt to escape the war. this is one of the most devastating yet hopeful memoirs i have ever read

abu bakr lays out his life in such a simple, charming way that is so digestible and so impactful

he speaks about his life in iraq, the move to syria, the smiles and teasings from his father, the bullets and explosions and terrors, working at his father's bakery,
Homes is the story of Abu Bakr al Rabeeah, as told to Winnie Yeung, about his family’s life in both Iraq and Syria before moving to Canada as refugees in 2015.

For as long as I can remember, there has always been some sort of conflict ongoing in the Middle East. Despite seeing it on the news regularly, I would say that I was pretty apathetic to it all. That isn’t to say that I didn’t understand the tragic nature of an endless war, but it’s difficult to comprehend the enormity of it all. Abu Bakr’
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
“How could the God of my gentle father be the same God of those crazy fanatics who killed in the name of Islam? I hated those people the most. How could they take something so loving and peaceful and twist it to justify violence and murder? Those people cannot really be Muslim because my God was about love, peace, charity.”

Stories like this are so necessary, especially as anti-immigrant sentiments are on the rise in Canada and other countries. The al Rabeeah family only wants what all
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Homes is a gracefully written book that really captures what this year's Canada Reads theme is - a book to move you. It's the story of a young boy's life growing up in the midst of the civil war in Syria as his family hopes to be approved for refugee status in Canada. Entirely told from his perspective, it offers a unique context to the important issues of war, violence, faith, and the ongoing refugee crisis. It's one thing to see it in soundbites and clips on the news, it's quite another thing ...more
Syrian refugees - we rallied and donated clothes and household items to help families locally get settled, we see new Immigrants on the news grateful to be here - yet we miss their personal stories. This simply written book explains the background we need to be truly empathetic. I’m grateful that the author shared his story, he shone a great light on the details of his life, and the universal struggle and hope for safety and security that comes with Homes.

A YA classification would bring this
❀ Susan G
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-reads
Homes makes one think about how lucky we are to be Canadian. I cannot imagine sending my children off to school and having to worry about snipers or suicide bombers. This memoir is told by Bakr, reflecting on his life in Iraq and Syria. He shared the dichotomy of the violence and massacres with the hustle and bustle of a loving, close knit family full of siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles. He shares the perspective of a young boy coming to terms with leaving his country, his family, his friends ...more
Abu Bakr al Rabeeah is a teenage Syrian refugee living in Edmonton with his family. There, he met ESL teacher Winnie Yeung, and they embarked together on the project of telling his and his family’s story. It’s simply told, moving, and thought-provoking - it made me think about the juxtaposition of the ordinary trappings of childhood like soccer and skipping school with the utter fear and devastation wrought by car bombs and massacres. Also the immense challenges faced by parents trying to keep ...more
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
A quick read to get a taste of the refugee experience. al Rabeeah and his teacher were astute to take on this project, to document what happened to him, and to help the rest of us even begin to understand it. It has a YA feel, and as others have said, would be a great start for a younger crowd on the topic of international war and being a refugee.

Another reminder that it might well be true that Canada is the greatest country in the world. Even with its winters.
Anne Logan
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
All my reviews can be found on

Those of us who are lucky enough to have the luxury of living in peaceful countries may be asking themselves what we can do to help the refugee crisis; I would argue our first job is to listen to their stories in an attempt to understand what they are fleeing from and why. With the number of refugees increasing, we now have access to even more first person accounts of what it’s like to have to flee your own home. Last year I reviewed a work of
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is hard to read. It is such a sad story. You read it and know that it is real, and it breaks your heart to know that people live like this and feel this insecurity and fear on a daily basis, but at the same time it is just so hard to really imagine it. This is so far from my own reality that it is very hard to even understand it. I cannot believe how young the author of this book is and how grown up he seems. I love the beauty in which he talks about his country and his family. This is ...more
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Homes is the story of a boy, Abu Bakr, and his family living in Homs, Syria and their efforts to leave the violence of the Assad regime. It's beautifully written by his teacher.

This is a wonderful book... it's another library ebook that I enjoyed so much that I purchased it. I wish Goodreads offered more than 5 stars because this book deserves it.


Note: Homes is the "Big Library Read" for 4/1-4/15/2019 ( ). The Big Library Read makes unlimited copies
Sobering viewpoint

I would never have picked this book on my own . . .it is out of every aspect of my experience. I'm grateful the author and his teachers took the time to completely tell this story.

Kudos to all who helped get this family to their final destination. And God bless Canada!
In December 2014, Bakr was a 14yr old boy who loved soccer, video games and his family. He just happened to live in Syria. After persistent appeals by his father to the UN, Bakr and his siblings and parents were finally leaving their war-torn homeland for Canada. Bakr details car bombings, mortar attacks on his street, seeing his first dead body and seeing the dead body of someone he knew. Everyday life of school, friends and family celebrations continue despite the escalating chaos all around ...more
This left me with many emotions. Gratitude for being born when and where I was. A deep sadness at the horrors we inflict upon one another. Disbelief that right now there are people out there just hoping for for one more day of safety for their family.

Telling this from the view of a young boy made it even more moving for me, a child should never have to live under those circumstances.

I can't stop thinking of the quote attributed to Plato. "Be kind, for every one you meet is fighting a hard
Tracy Stewart
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow, this is a powerful book! Everyone who has been fortunate enough to live their entire lives in a place of peace would do well to read Abu Bakr's story. I found it did a very good job of immersing the reader in the wide variety of emotions a young person would feel going through two civil wars and then suddenly being dropped into a Western city. Fear, safety, home and belonging can wear different faces in different places, and it is not an easy thing to change "home" even when you are in a ...more
Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I think this book should be mandatory reading for Grade 7/8. A lovely story about such an important topic. ...more
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Just wow. Beautifully written and an amazing story. If this book doesn’t inspire and open your eyes idk what would.
Feb 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the better books I have read on the refugee experience.
My parents raised me to be a kind and compassionate person. I also had the fortune to spend a good chunk of my childhood in northern Virginia, where there is quite a bit of diversity. My father’s next door neighbors are from Iran, and when I was 19, I dated a guy who had been born in Iran but had been sent with his mother to Canada to escape the religious revolution in 1979. I’ve always been taught to look at a person’s heart, not the color of his skin, and also that true Islam is a religion of ...more
Mar 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Abu Bakr al Rabeeah’s story is captivating, providing a unique window into the ways in which his family struggled to maintain a normal life in Syria, despite the escalating violence and political turmoil during the Syrian civil war.

Homes is a short read, the writing perhaps not as polished and immersive as it could be, but I had to keep reminding myself that it was written by a young teenager (with assistance from his English teacher), in a language foreign to him, using Google Translate and a
Dana Osmond
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
In this work of creative non-fiction, I was given insight into the story of an innocent. A child of ten being raised up with love and connection, with resilience and faith, and with war. The war in Syria. How this child, and his family, made it out and into Canada. This is Abu Bakr's story. A new Canadian, and so his story has become part of Canada's.
2019 Canada Reads selection- first one I tackled, mostly because of the length. It is well worth reading, and although there is horror, the
Elise Buller
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Honestly I don’t really know what to say about this book. After reading it I’m just at a loss of words. I kept forgetting throughout how young Abu Bakr really was and is and I can’t even begin to grasp all the pain and suffering at such a young age. It’s a truly moving yet terrifying true story that brought me to tears more then once and makes you so so grateful for the privilege and circumstances you have been born into.

Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I am Happy to have been born and raised in a country that gave me freedom!
Freedom of religion, to dress, sexual orientation etc..... to have an individual mind.
Nadine Hiemstra
For such a little book, this story packs a big punch! As someone who’s always had the safety of a stable country and a life free from daily violence, it’s hard to imagine life in a war zone. “Homes” tells the story of a boy and his family as their world shifts around them, and truly hits close to the heart. The real power in this story is how Bakr’s narration, told through Winnie Yeung, brings together the reality of of his childhood with the realities of war and immigration. I also appreciate ...more
Krystal Hicks
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I knew when they had announced the Canada Reads finalist that this is the book I most wanted to read. The story is told from the point of view of a young boy who’s family flea Iraq to Syria for a better life. Shortly after arriving in Syria the civil war started. This book is intense, eye opening and a beautiful story of how a family sticks together through everything. From civil war to becoming a Canadian refugee and the journey in between, every Canadian should read this book.
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I could not put this book down. I read it in two sittings and find myself deeply moved. I highly recommend it. I think it may be the book that Canada needs to read.
Jovana Đermanović
May 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Homes: A Refugee Story is a touching YA book written by a young refugee boy and his teacher about his life during the Syrian civil war. It is a well-deserved Canada Reads finalist on a topic that is, sadly, very misunderstood by many in Canadian society, as it is around the world. Misconceptions and negative attitudes towards refugees and migrants are high, particularly towards those escaping terror in the Middle East, which shows that people are either misinformed, ignorant, lacking proper ...more
Homes: A Refugee Story was selected as the March 2019 Big Library Read and made available for download in ebook formate without wait lists by Overdrive Media. This memoir was my introduction to the Big Library Reads program, and will certainly lead me to explore future selections. Abu Bakr was only nine years old when his family fled Iraq and settled in Syria, where their peaceful existence was short-lived. After five years of applications and interviews the family was untimately resettled by ...more
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Play Book Tag: (+ Horizons) Homes: A Refugee Story / Abu Bakr al Rabeeah. 4 stars 2 11 Sep 16, 2019 09:55PM  
Play Book Tag: Homes: A Refugee Story by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah - 4 stars -Horizons 3 11 Jul 13, 2019 03:25PM  
Big Library Read: Three Words 1 5 Mar 27, 2019 09:01AM  
Big Library Read: Book Imagery 1 2 Mar 27, 2019 08:58AM  
Big Library Read: Life Decisions 1 4 Mar 27, 2019 08:53AM  
Big Library Read: Newcomers to Your Community 1 5 Mar 27, 2019 08:51AM  

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“Life must always go on, Bakr. Death doesn’t matter. Money doesn’t matter. Even life itself doesn’t matter, son. What matters is living your life with your family, with the people you love. We love each other, hard, and hold on tight. What we face, we face together. Together, we move forward and every little happiness we can have, we enjoy. We cannot let hatred and fear stop us from living.” 3 likes
“The white scarf bloomed red.” 1 likes
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