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The Beekeeper of Aleppo

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Omgivet af mørke fandt han mod. Omgivet af krig fandt han kærlighed. Omgivet af tragedie fandt han håb.

Nuri er biavler, og hans kone, Afra, er kunstner. Om morgenen står Nuri tidligt op for at høre bønnekaldet, før han kører ud til sine bistader på landet. I weekenderne sælger Afra sine farvestrålende landskabsmalerier på basarens marked. De lever et enkelt liv med familie og venner i den smukke syriske by Aleppo – indtil det utænkelige sker. Da alt, hvad de elsker, bliver ødelagt af krigen, ved Nuri med sig selv, at de må forlade Aleppo. Men flugten fra Syrien bliver ikke let: Afra har mistet synet, og Nuri må føre dem begge igennem både en stor sorg og en farefuld rejse gennem Tyrkiet og Grækenland mod en usikker fremtid i Storbritannien. Nuri holder ud, fordi han ved, at hans fætter Mustafa venter på dem. Han har startet en bigård i Yorkshire og lærer nu andre flygtninge at holde bier. På rejsen gennem en sønderrevet verden må Nuri og Afra ikke kun konfrontere smerten ved deres eget ubeskrivelige tab, men også farer, som ville overvælde selv den modigste. Frem for alt må de foretage den svære rejse tilbage til hinanden, ad en vej, der engang var så velkendt, men som er blevet fremmed gennem den sorg, det er at miste et holdepunkt i tilværelsen.
En rørende, inderlig og smukt skrevet bog for vor tid: en roman, der minder os om, at selv den mest fredelige og almindelige tilværelse kan blive vendt helt på hovedet på måder, man ikke kan forestille sig, og som samtidig rykker en rejse i fjerne lande helt tæt på.

360 pages, Hardcover

First published May 2, 2019

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About the author

Christy Lefteri

10 books1,207 followers
Christy Lefteri was born in London in 1980 to Greek Cypriot parents who moved to London in 1974. She completed a degree in English and a Masters in creative writing at Brunel University. She taught English to foreign students and then became a secondary school teacher before leaving to pursue a PhD and to write. She is also studying to become a psychotherapist.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 11,131 reviews
Profile Image for Angela M (On a little break).
1,270 reviews2,217 followers
July 29, 2019

After I finished reading this, I almost wasn’t going to write a full review, but just say that it’s a heartbreaking, realistic rendering of the refugee experience, of people struggling to make it to a country that would provide asylum from a place where they have endured incredible loss and face imminent danger. In spite of the heartache, it’s a beautifully written story and I highly recommend it. That’s all I was going to say because I thought the book was so powerful, it would speak for itself. But I couldn’t leave it at that because this book, this story deserves a few more words. This author deserves a few more words about the amazing thing she has accomplished in this small volume.

Nuri, the Syrian beekeeper of the title and his wife Afra make a harrowing journey from Syria, through Turkey and Greece to the UK, a hard journey, traumatic at times from what Nuri sees and does there and the past he dreams about. Afra, his wife is suffering , blinded by the bombing is grieving an unimaginable loss to most of us. Nuri cares for her, seemingly so strong in the face of the adversity that has fallen on them, but he too is suffering and it manifests itself in such a heartbreaking way. He, too is suffering from the loss, has witnessed horrific things, and has lost his livelihood caring for bees in a business with his cousin. The loss of everything they held dear and now this profound grief and sense of displacement. As I read this, I wondered about Christy Lefteri and how she could be so intimately engaged in their sorrow and their struggle. Then I read her note at the end and realized that her deep compassion emanates from her experiences as a volunteer with refugees, from listening to their stories and from a personal connection to refugees - her parents. (This article describes that connection. https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/bo...)

I loved the writing, how she seamlessly bridges the past to the present through flashbacks and through Nuri’s dreams and nightmares and by connecting one chapter to another by a word. The last word of each chapter is continued with the title of the next chapter and that word begins the first sentence of that chapter. I found this very affecting. This is not a very long book, but it is not a quick one to read. It is incredibly sad and some of the images were reminiscent of the horrific ones I’ve seen on TV, as the refugee crisis is front and center in the news. I have read a number of novels about immigrants, but none until now about the journey to asylum. This is a stunning portrayal, profoundly emotional and thought provoking. If I had written a shorter review, I would have said, you need to read this.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Random House/Ballantine through NetGalley.

Profile Image for Maureen .
1,292 reviews7,114 followers
March 21, 2019
“Refugees didn’t just escape a place. They had to escape a thousand memories until they’d put enough time and distance between them and their misery, to wake to a better day.”
― Nadia Hashimi, When the Moon is Low

Nuri was a beekeeper in Aleppo, Syria, his wife Afra an artist - of course this was before the war that was to tear their lives apart, and in which they suffered the most unbearable loss. In addition, this loss left Afra blind. Prior to the war, they’d lived a simple but happy life among friends and family, people who knew the meaning of the most important thing in life - love.

As things became ever more dangerous, with random killings and beheadings of innocent men, women and children, they had no choice but to leave what was left of their once beautiful city, and the only lives they had ever known. They become one of the many thousands of displaced people - asylum seekers making the dangerous journey across countries and stormy seas, whilst encountering much hatred and prejudice along the way. These people have witnessed unbelievable horrors that have left them grief stricken, broken and traumatised, and, as they begin this mammoth journey to who knows where? they have to believe that they will find a new home somewhere, but it will be a home with rooms empty of those that they loved.

Gosh, what a journey this was, not merely in geographical terms, but in the raw emotions of those involved. The subject of immigration is one that everyone has an opinion on, and The Beekeeper of Aleppo takes you behind the news headlines, giving a birds eye view of the dangers and obstacles involved. It’s a horrifying yet beautiful novel that is so relevant right now.

The author is well qualified to bring us this fictional, yet realistic story, as she spent time working as a volunteer at a UNICEF supported refugee centre in Athens.

Don’t miss this haunting , heartbreaking and thought provoking novel - even the simple description of the love and attention Nuri lavished on his beloved bees, is just so moving it’s enough to break your heart.

*Thank you to Netgalley and Bonnier Zaffre for my ARC. I have given an honest unbiased review in exchange *
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,067 reviews38.1k followers
March 18, 2022
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I didn’t wrongly type those dots. I’m speechless and still trying to gather the broken pieces of my heart but when i glue the crumbled pieces, my heart will consist of mismatched puzzle pieces because this book already stole a huge piece of me that could be never ever replace!

Afra and Nuri created an ordinary, happy life with their child, the jobs which fits their passions, a house, a land with bees buzzing around and making their peaceful happy dances. Nuri’s easygoing, friendly, emotional and touchy characteristics matched with the nature of bees. He was the shepherd, Godfather of them, knowing their needs which helped him to create a harmonious life with them.

Afra is a talented artist who has third eye to help her to be differentiated from her competitors. Her visionary and creation were beyond the words. Till she lost three of her eyes with a bomb cut her all lifelines.

They lost their land in he fire...
They lost their child...
They lost their beautiful ordinary life...
Worst part of it THEY LOST THEIR HOPE!

Sigh... I need a moment right now... This book is too heavy, heart wrenching read. I thought that I have high level pain tolerance but I couldn’t be so wrong! I can read so many gory, harsh, terrifying thriller books or watch bloody slasher movies but when it comes to the books which gives your stomach churning, heart ripping sensations, I stop and freeze because the fiction part was over and reality kicks in!

Afra and Nuri left their country, their old life, their loved ones, their traditions, their passions, memories, friends, childhood, home behind to run away to save their lives.

They’re literally not in Kansas anymore,they’re living in the purgatory !
Neither they can live in the past nor they can live in the present time.
The dangerous journey started from Turkey and continued to Greece and finalized in the UK was heart throbbing and struggling experience but they finally made it against all odds.

Now they were waiting for the immigration officers’ decision about their lives as two exhausted souls who were afraid of touching each other and holding their deceased son’s memories.

It was tragic, heavy, hard, struggling and one of most realistic read for me! I loved the conclusion of the story!
I’m a little angry at the author for giving me so many ugly cries and taking out of my vulnerable piece of my heart!

She changed me and gave me insightful look about the one of the most important social, political issues of our modern world by ripping my heart ...
And I ‘m so thankful to her for this one of the greatest social and political awareness/ emotional reading!

So much special thanks to Netgalley and Ballentine Books for sending me ARC COPY like an early Christmas gift on August in exchange my honest review !

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Profile Image for MarilynW.
1,034 reviews2,570 followers
April 10, 2022
The Beekeeper of Aleppo gives names and faces to the glimpses we've had of the people that became Syrian refugees. People who were living their lives, working their jobs, raising their families, and enjoying everyday home life until the war and fighting finally blew up their existence and killed their friends, neighbors, and family. All that is left to do is to wait to be killed or die a slow death of starvation and lack of everything a human needs to survive.

We meet Nuri, a beekeeper who has lost his hives and bees, and his blind wife, Afra. They have suffered the worst loss of all and still must find a way to keep living, if they can find the will to keep living, in their war ravaged world. Nuri's beekeeping partner and cousin Mustafa urges Nuri to find a way to get to Yorkshire, where Mustafa started an apiary and is training other refugees to raise bees. Nuri must convince his wife Afra, whose heart and spirit are broken by all that they have lost, to make the journey with him.

What they've already seen and suffered is more than they can shoulder but now they must endure even more as they make the long, dangerous, journey through strange lands and bureaucratic paperwork that has the power to throw their lives right back into the hell of their homeland. We meet others that are trying to find a home away from persecution, war, and the surety of death, if they are made to return to the places that they are fleeing. Privacy, personal space, all that they knew as home and family, are gone and it's hard to imagine how anyone can have the hope and willpower to keep fighting when they are so beaten into the ground.

Christy Lefteri knows what she is writing about because she worked with refugees and saw their suffering and anguish and did what she could do to help them. Her love of these hurting people is so very clear in the way she writes about them and I thank her helping me to really see what these refugees go through to find a place where they can be eat, sleep, and be safe again.

Pub August 27th 2019

Thank you to Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine and NetGalley for this ARC.
October 10, 2022
Five heart-breaking stars for a gripping and immersive read. A story of love and loss after the total destruction of Aleppo. I knew I was going to devour this book from the start after reading a few heartfelt words from a father who records the death of his son in a few simple but poignant words

"Name - my beautiful boy.
Cause of death - this broken world"


From the first word to the last, from Aleppo in Syria to the UK, from stability to uncertainty, and from the shattered lives of a brutal war to a new life in a new country, we follow an incredibly touching story of a small group of Syrian refugees. Their lives, their families and their hopes shattered by a familiar aggressor on the global stage. However, where there is evil there is also good, where there is destruction there is also courage, and where there is life there is always hope.

“Where there are bees there are flowers, and wherever there are flowers there is new life and hope.”

The Plot

Although fictional, many of the events and lives are inspired by the true events of a displaced people who not just lost everything they own but they were also vulnerable to other dangers, of people smugglers and traffickers, as they make their way across Europe looking for a safe haven, in the UK.

Nuri and Mustafa are beekeepers in Aleppo who are separated after the invasion and destruction of Aleppo both seeking refuge in England. Yet the darkness often referred to in times of desperation is only too real for Afra, Nuri’s wife, who has been left blind after an explosion that claimed the life of their only son.

Left defenceless and vulnerable, Nuri and Afra, are exposed to acts of kindness and unimaginable horrors as they encounter those seeking to exploit their hardship and loss, as Nuri battles post-traumatic stress disorder himself.

Review and Comments

This is a very timely and heart-breaking story of a people displaced by war and the atrocities inflicted by brutal regimes, as the first casualty is often the innocent people and the ‘truth’. Like the people of Aleppo and now Ukraine, many people in other countries have suffered deplorable similar fates through war. However, this story brought the refugee crisis home to me, without being dramatic it highlighted the tragic circumstances faced by many. A very powerful story that felt so real it came across as though the characters were speaking direct about their story.

The personal account of events, the intimacy of their struggles, their vulnerability expressed through their fears were incredibility touching, authentic and all too real for many. From the darkest tunnels of grief the author did really well to use bees as the symbol of vulnerability, life and hope. Something I was not aware of.

The writing style was perfect, thought provoking, compelling and sensitive without being overly emotional or sentimental.

Drawing on the messages conveyed by the author
In the midst of war, we often find courage.
In the midst of profound darkness, we find light.
In the midst of grief, we often find love.
In the midst of tragedy, we often find hope and kindness.


Touching, heart-breaking and a story of human resilience and the power of the human spirit. For all those suffering in war, through invasion, and against prejudice you are not alone, in this broken world"
Profile Image for Helia.
71 reviews33 followers
July 4, 2020
Believe me when I say I don’t enjoy being in the minority when I review books, but unfortunately this book was very disappointing to me.

This is a story about the plight of the refugees. It follows a Syrian refugee family in 2015-2016, as they leave a war torn Syria and make their way to England. What they encountered in Syria was horrifying. What they encountered on their journey was equally horrifying. This is a story about the heartbreak, destruction and havoc of war and the pain of watching your homeland and your way of life burned, bombed and destroyed. It is the story of being ripped apart from your family and friends, and losing things and people that you hold dearest. Unfortunately, this is also a story that forgets to evoke any emotion whatsoever about any of these issues.

Firstly, I have to say, I might have liked the story a little better, if the writing style was not painful to read. I did not like the author’s overly stylized writing at all. I think she was going for “literary” and “poetic”. I’m sorry to say I felt it was ‘trying too hard’ and coming across as phony. It was almost like the intent was not to evoke emotions in the reader, or raise awareness about important issues, or connect us as human beings of the world regardless of where lines are drawn in the sand and flags are placed. It was as if the intent was to submit this writing for a literary award. But true literature and poetry first and foremost have strong emotional pulls. That’s their whole point!

Secondly, this book was not written in a chronological timeline, which usually is not a problem for me. However, this one lacked any sort of logical delineation, and with so many timelines that appeared completely fluid and a mix of what was real and what was not, it quickly became a mess. We had 3 discernable timelines: The happy past (pre-civil-war Syria), the awful past (civil war in Syria and the journey from Syria to England), and then the present (England); but then we also had various dream sequences complete with sleep walking both in present day and in the past (including a cast of imaginary friends, etc.) and all of this needed complete concentration and attention to the story to get straight in your mind.

Now I’m a pretty serious reader, the pen and notepad by my side kind, the highlighting passages kind. So I don’t usually have trouble with concentration or attention. But if your storytelling and your characters are so dull that they make me pick up my phone to scroll Instagram instead of googling the political topics and the geographical locations you’re talking about in your story, then you can start to see why I’m going to have trouble following your very fluid timelines….

This brings me to my biggest complaint with this book. How can you write a book about such a heartbreaking topic and make your story and the cast of characters this boring? Honestly, at only 300 pages, this was the longest short book I’ve read in years!!! If this book was not selected by my bookclub, I would have DNF even at the halfway point. It took me over a month to read this book. Every time I put it down, I really struggled to pick it back up.

I was pretty outraged by the author’s choices in telling this story. Without spoiling it for you, there is something absolutely devastating that happens to this family in Syria. In flashbacks to the past, the author tells us about everything, except the thing that matters the most. She distinctly avoids telling us about the what and the how of the events related to this devastating incident. Now before you jump up and down and tell me that she did this on purpose, that she didn’t want to tell us about the incident because she wanted to showcase the main characters’ refusal to deal with their emotions related to this trauma, please allow me to say that this is not lost on me. However, in attempting to mirror the refusal of her main characters to talk about the trauma, the author failed to create any connection whatsoever between me and these characters. The story was told in a very cold and detached way, possibly to mirror how trauma could make people feel like zombies, but reading this left me feeling completely empty; I did not feel anything for the characters. I did not understand them. I didn’t really care much. And all of that made me feel awful. How is it that reading one paragraph on Humans of New York’s blog/facebook/Instagram page when Brandon Stanton covers a refugee camp for a couple of weeks, can make me sob uncontrollably while reading 300 pages of this didn’t make me feel anything?

I understand that the author’s time volunteering in Greece and working with refugees inspired her to write this book. I really wish she had written this story to give us more information, more background into what is actually going on in Syria. I understand that many may disagree and say that this story was about the cast of characters and their individual experiences and not about the country and its civil war. I don’t agree. I think both the main character and his cousin and the cousin’s wife as well as what appeared to be the entire population of Aleppo made decisions to leave or to stay and when to leave and where to go and these decisions all depended on the political climate, how fast things escalated, when things happened, when the first bomb fell, how many people died in what kind of timeline… So all of this would have enriched the story, and would have explained their reasoning, their thought process. It would have helped us put ourselves in their shoes. It would have made them more understandable, and would have made for a much more emotionally rich book, AND it would have taught us something. The conflict in Syria is very complex. There is a lot that could have been unpacked here. It seemed like a lost opportunity to talk about the bees and the apiaries for approximately 785 times, and not about what was actually going on around them.

And the bees, the symbolism, gosh… I know this book is about a beekeeper, and of course pretty much within the first 20 pages, you realize the bees symbolize humanity with their vulnerability, their resiliency, their community, etc. The next 280+ pages, and the incessant use of bees for symbolism purposes was an absolute overkill. The comparison of English bees to Syrian bees, the whole novella written about the wingless bee stuck in a concrete courtyard in England.... My God, please put the hammer down! Why do you need to beat me over the head with it? This is not a grade 8 English class!

Another thing that did not help matters was the terrible editing of this book. There were many glaring mistakes that would have been easily avoidable with good editing. I read the electronic version. Perhaps they were corrected in the hard cover? I’m not sure. But they were so unnecessary. Things like people would sit by the window and watch the sunset, then an hour later, would go for an afternoon walk… Another time, the main character is remembering a party he and his cousin threw for Eid 10 years ago, a feast for their employees in a hotel restaurant. He remembers his wife in a beautiful red and gold abaya, holding their son’s hand and walking him here and there to mingle with friends. Well, a few pages later, it’s 2016 and an officer in Greece asks them for the date of birth of their son and he says January 2009. So ummm math much? These random mistakes were distracting, especially for a pen and notepad kinda reader like me.

I realize I’ve been pretty brutal in my review above. So let me say that the last couple of chapters did get better, and I did like the hopeful note the book ends on. But I’m sorry to say it was too little too late for me.

I picked up this book because my bookclub selected it, but I was excited about it. I was very interested to read a book about the Syrian civil war and the displacement of the millions of refugees and their plight. However, this book was not what I was hoping it would be at all, and left me feeling empty, and underwhelmed. I do not recommend it at all.

1.5 stars.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,478 reviews29.7k followers
January 6, 2021
‘where there are bees there are flowers, and wherever there are flowers there is new life and hope.’

this story was inspired by CLs time working with refugees in athens and you can tell through the emotive writing that this story means so much to her.

i also think she does a good job at balancing the heartbreak and struggle of nuri and afras journey with moments of hope and love. its a good reminder of the resilience of the human spirit and the importance of family.

this is a touching story that demonstrates the loud destruction of war and the quiet strength of an individual.

4 stars
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,849 reviews34.9k followers
October 3, 2019
Once I started reading this, it didn’t take long until I noticed the gorgeous writing.

But then.... there’s more. Always more!

....I wasn’t expecting to feel like a sardine packed inside a refugee camp in Athens...
.....I wasn’t expecting to treasure a little boy’s hope-
Sami- while he built a house out of Legos because he was going to build a house stronger for his family than the one they were leaving.
....I wasn’t expecting to hurt as much as I did.

The realization of how war changes lives forever... is haunting in itself ...
and...
Christy Lefteri gave me a deeper experience of just how true that is.

The direct ways in which Nuri and his wife Afra, experienced the Syrian civil war - reminded me how people who faced bone-chilling horrifying inhumane violence and loss from war,
never need to be reminded “we cannot forget”.

Little scenes were very visual for me.
Before Nuri and Afra, lost their son, Sami, he was in bed at night talking to his father, horrified by the sounds of the bombing...
He was also worried about falling into the water while crossing the rivers and seas.... while escaping Syrian.
“Would the boat tip over?”
Nuri told Sami they’d be wearing life jackets.
I wanted a ‘trip-of-safety’ badly for Sami.

I was frozen along with Afra, who lost her eye sight after losing her only son, Sami.

....I wasn’t expecting to feel SOOO AFFECTED from a book called “The Beekeeper of Aleppo”.

I didn’t want this family to suffer.
But they did!

...Broken...
...so much loss
...Sad...
...Let all refugees tell their stories/ and may I listen.

***Much admiration for the author!

5 strong stars
Profile Image for Karen.
552 reviews1,081 followers
September 27, 2019
4.5

In 2015, Nuri and his wife Afra from Aleppo, Syria decide to leave their war ravaged country where they suffered many losses ...to make a very dangerous journey through Turkey and Greece with their final destination being England.
The story weaves together two timelines... the journey, and their time in England while awaiting asylum.
It’s very difficult for them to escape the memories that haunt them.
This ended up being a beautiful story!
Profile Image for Liz.
1,917 reviews2,351 followers
August 1, 2019
From its first pages, this book will hit you hard. It depicts Nuri and his wife, Afra, and the disintegration of their life in Syria and their arduous journey to asylum in England. They lost their son to a bomb. Both are suffering from PTSD, although their symptoms are markedly different.
What can I say about a book like this? It is heartrending. It’s beautifully written. It comes across as totally real. But I still struggled with it. It’s very depressing, as you would expect. I had to keep putting the book down and walk away, giving myself time to process it. I loved his memories of the bees the best, those brief glimpses of beauty. It’s incredibly moving, haunting and gut wrenching,
Lefteri knows what she’s writing about. She worked as a volunteer at a refugee center in Athens for two years. As she writes, “The question I sought to answer with this book is what does it mean to see”.
My thanks to netgalley and Random House for an advance copy of this book.
Profile Image for Jen CAN.
466 reviews1,276 followers
December 15, 2019
Who knew bees 🐝 could be so beautiful? The humming, the worker, all caught up in their world of making honey that is likened to gold. So precious.

Such a vivid and tragic story of a couple, Nuri the beekeeper and his blind wife, Afra, an artist. Both making the difficult decision to leave Syria and make the treacherous journey to Britain. The life they are leaving behind - which no longer exists- to the unknown.

The descriptive writing, captivating and heart wrenching. From the dreams Nuri has of his home and past, to the pictures Afra draws.
Lefteri structures her chapters a little differently- but once I got used to it, I loved it.

This is an emotional one. The pain of loss, the beauty of remembering and the tragedy of surviving and finding hope and light again.

A depth of gratitude to Lefteri for writing this through her experiences as a volunteer at a refugee centre in Athens. She has given a voice to these people who have suffered immeasurably, yet have hope to start again.
5++++⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Profile Image for Paige.
152 reviews283 followers
September 6, 2019
What does it mean if we no longer grieve for what we lost? Do we legitimize the things we have lost or broken by holding on to our grief? What does it mean to carry memories?

The story begins with Nuri, the husband and main character who narrates the story, engulfed in the dark grey abyss of his wife’s blind eyes. His wife, Afra, was left blinded by the war and is left with only her own recollection. But, what does it mean to see? What does it mean to love? Revolutionized by the Syrian Civil War, a war that was not their decision to be involved in or part of, Nuri leaves his apiaries in Aleppo behind and journeys with Afra from Syria to the UK in hopes of obtaining asylum to create a safe and improved future. Their immigration tale tornadoes a state of mental trauma and emotional hardships that endure homelessness while surviving murderers, starvation, and ethical barriers.

Nuri and Afra’s journey from Syria to their ultimate destination is told through Nuri’s flashbacks in bits and pieces. The bees that Nuri often recounts from his life in Aleppo represent the deep metaphorical allegories for their lives, their immigration experience, and the state of Syria.

This story is not about war, but rather the strenuous effects of war on the mind and body. It contains disturbing content, and I would recommend reading this while in a good state of mind. I would consider this a good novel for this interested in the constructs of culture and the influence of sociology. Many thanks to Netgalley and Random House Ballantine for this copy. Opinions are my own.

For more on this topic:
Syrian Refugee Crisis
Fast Facts of Syrian Civil War

Nonfiction books that I recommend on this topic:
Shatter the Nations: ISIS and the War for the Caliphate by Mike Giglio
Guest House for Young Widows: Among the Women of Isis by Azadeh Moaveni

In the novel, Nuri and Afra stay at Pedion tou Areos with other refugees. Picture of a migrant camp set up at Pedion tou Areos park in Athens:
description
Profile Image for Debbie.
685 reviews425 followers
August 15, 2021
I think most of us are aware, through vast news coverage, of the thousands of refugees seeking asylum from their war-torn homelands near the Mediterranean Sea, but author Christy Lefteri writes an exceptionally heartbreaking story that brings these individuals to life - their histories, their thoughts, their fears, their hopes.

Lefteri's writing style moved me:
1. that from the first sentence, "I am scared of my wife's eyes," I was hooked!;
2. as she answers, in well-written prose, all the questions I had about the main character, Nuri, his wife, Afra, and their young son, Sami, as I followed them (and others) on their horrendous journey;
3. when she would revert from the past to the present, then back again;
4. the one-word titles of various chapters would end the previous sentence and flow seamlessly to the first sentence in the next chapter; and,
5. for making me feel anger and sorrow at the horrible injustices that these civilians continue to face during wartime, as Lefteri states in her Author's Note "...how these children and families were bearing the brunt of wars they did not ask for."

This story of sadness and loss, of hope and love, really opened my eyes. I'm sure it will do the same for you.
Profile Image for Dem.
1,176 reviews1,066 followers
June 12, 2019
What a thought provoking and haunting piece of fiction, beautifully written and the reader does get a horrifying glimpse into the refugee and asylum crisis and the challenges and heartbreak families caught up in this nightmare in Syria have trying to flee to safety.

This is the story of Nuri, a beekeeper and his artist wife Afra and their Journey to safety in England after the situation deteriorates in Aleppo and the sacrifices they make in order to reach family and friends in England. If you are reading this book looking for an insight to the Syrian Conflict and the Civil War in Allepo then this novel will not answer your questions however this is a well written story about the impact that war has on the innocent citizens caught up in the conflict and this is vitally important as here in Ireland where refugees have settled, we need to have an understanding and compassion in order for families to settle and feel comfortable in our community and this is an area which I think governments need to address as sometimes these families must feel so isolated and alone when they arrive here.

The author Christy Lefteri who in the summer of 2016 and 2107 worked as a volunteer in a Unicef funded refugee camp in Athens takes stories and sights from her time there as writes this work of fiction based on fact and what she witnessed while a volunteer there.
The story is beautifully written and constructed in a lovely way which added to my enjoyment in reading the book. (If enjoyment is the right word) The images the author created are vivid and striking and the characters well portrayed.
This book really made me think and about how challenging and terrifying it must be for families to leave behind what is familiar and make this treacherous journey to the unknown and then to gain acceptance and understanding in their new home while they themselves try to come to terms with their grief and loss, it just doesn't bear thinking about.

I was really glad to have read this novel as it is well written, thought provoking and a book that would be wonderful discussion book for book groups as the author has included discussion questions and an author's note at the end.
Profile Image for Danielle.
778 reviews367 followers
January 18, 2023
It read’s beautifully- feels poetic- each scene is set so picturesquely. 🤗 What is reality versus imaginary during a time of refuge from a character suffering from ptsd. 🤔 It’s sad. It’s triumphant. It’s worth the read. 👍
Profile Image for Tina.
2,306 reviews1 follower
December 24, 2021
This is a historical fiction book. I love this book so much. It follows a couple leaving their country because it is not safe to stay. So, they go to UK. It shows us how hard the journey is. I have to say that some parts of this book is hard to follow and read, but I think it was written to be hard to understand because the character is having mental health issues. The twist at the end was really good, and I did not see it coming at all. I won an ARC of this book from a goodreads giveaway, but this review is 100% my own honest opinion.
Profile Image for Marialyce (absltmom, yaya).
1,907 reviews727 followers
January 29, 2022
“I wish I could escape my mind, that I could be free of this world and everything I have seen in the last few years. And the children who have survived - what will become of them? How will they be able to live in this world?”

Picture yourself in the midst of a Civil War and how you and your family would face the everyday occurrences in a war ravaged country. Think of how your life would change from the everyday normal into a fight for survival in a land you once loved and felt safe in. Now, know this is not only a story but a way of life that became the norm in Syria when civil war broke out. It became a humanitarian crisis and in this story we follow Nuri and Afra, a husband and his blind wife. Nuri is a beekeeper in Aleppo, while Nuri is an artist. We share the struggles, the heartaches, and the final decision to escape to England and begin anew.

“Where there are bees there are flowers, and wherever there are flowers there is new life and hope.”

However, this journey is fraught with difficulties, and after losing their son to a bomb, the arduous journey will take its toll on the couple. It's a traumatic journey, going through strange lands, coping with paperwork, knowing that any moment one slip up would place them back in the place which they are trying to escape from. This war began in 2011, is on going and has been the second deadliest war of the twenty-first century.

Ms Lefteri gives her characters poignancy and a voice that cries out about the ravages of war and the aftermath of suffering so many losses. This is a book that is quite depressing as our hearts break for those who suffer so and become pariahs in a country that really is not and never will be their own. Well versed in what this life is like, the author brings to the reader a view that is harsh, sad, and unforgettable.
My reviews can be seen here: http://yayareadslotsofbooks.wordpress...

https://www.rte.ie/culture/2019/0626/...
Profile Image for Bkwmlee.
367 reviews229 followers
September 1, 2019
4.5 stars

Let me start off by saying that this is a book everyone needs to read, especially given the current environment we live in with the immigration issue at the forefront of topics recently here in the Western part of the world. Though I have read plenty of books over the years about the immigrant experience from different viewpoints, including from the refugee and asylum perspectives, few of those books have been as haunting and affecting as this one. The story of Nuri and Afra and their harrowing journey to escape the conflict in Syria, the tremendous losses they endure one right after the other -- the loss of their home, their livelihoods, their family, their precious child, even their own souls – ordinary citizens caught up in horrible circumstances not of their making, already having to suffer through so much loss and devastation, yet somehow still finding the will to live, to push ahead through the grief and the desperation and finally arrive at their destination, only to face an uncertain future. This is one of those stories that reminded me once again just how much we often take for granted as we go about our daily lives and how we should be so much more grateful than we usually are for everything we do have.

This was a heart-wrenching, emotional read that brought tears to my eyes more than once, yet it was also thought-provoking and relevant to so much of what is going on in the world today. I will admit that it did take me a little while to get used to the book’s unique format (with the last word of each chapter acting as the bridge that starts the flashback to the past in the next chapter), but the beautifully written story as well as the realistically rendered characters (all of whom I adored) more than made up for my brief struggle with the format. Nuri and Afra are characters that I know will stay with me for a long time to come, as the penetrating sadness around their story is one that is difficult to forget. With that said though, there were also moments of hope amidst the desperation, such as when Nuri and Afra finally make it to their destination (not a spoiler, since we are already told this from the very first page) and are met with much kindness from the people they end up staying with at the refugee center as they wait for their asylum applications to be processed. These interactions at the refugee center in present time brought a certain element of hope to the story, which helped to balance out the overwhelming sadness of the past narrative recounting Nuri and Afra’s harrowing journey – at the same time, it made their story all the more poignant and powerful.

Part of what made this story feel so realistic was the fact that the author Christy Lefteri based a lot of it on her previous experience working with refugees as a UNICEF-sponsored volunteer in Athens, Greece. In addition to that though, there was also Lefteri’s personal connection as a daughter of refugees (both her parents fled war-torn Cyprus back in the 1970s), which combined with her volunteer experience to produce such a powerful and inspiring story. I know my review probably doesn’t say a whole lot, but in a way, the vagueness is a bit deliberate, as I feel the story already speaks for itself and nothing I say will be able to do it justice. All I’m going to say is that this book definitely deserves to be read – and sooner rather than later!

Received ARC from Ballantine Books (Random House) via NetGalley.
Profile Image for PorshaJo.
436 reviews655 followers
May 2, 2020
Rating 4.5

Haunting, beautiful, heartbreaking. So glad I finally read this one. But I'm a dolt. This was one of those times I judged a book by it's cover, by it's name. I saw it on Edelweiss and thought it would be nothing more than fluff. I kept seeing it pop up, read the blurb, and thought the same thing. Then, I started seeing all these wonderful reviews on GR, or the book getting mentioned in various trades, and awards and figured I'd give it a try. Shockingly, no wait at my library, which made me wonder.

The Beekeeper of Aleppo tells the story of Nuri and Afra, husband and wife, who lived in the war torn city of Aleppo. It has become too dangerous to stay, so they must leave. But leaving proves to be even more dangerous. They are trying to make their way to the UK. Nuri worked as a beekeeper and shop owner with his cousin Mustafa in Aleppo. Both families have suffered such horrible tragedies in Aleppo, but they must leave in order to survive. Mustafa, already sent his family to the UK, leaves and urges Nuri to do the same. But Afra refuses to leave her home. Finally, the time has come, and here you begin to see their story unravel. Hear of why they finally left, the journey they made, and how they are both impacted by everything that happens to them and they see.

I listened to this via audio and the narration was wonderful. Again, when I started listening I still thought the story would not turn out the way it did. I was not concentrating, and something happened and really caught my attention and 1 hour into the story, I went back to the beginning and started again. I wanted to focus, and pay attention to this captivating story. I'm stingy on 5 star ratings, but this one was close. There was a bit of back and forth that threw me off at times, hence a lower rating. Perhaps print, I could go back and forth. But then, I would have missed a great audio narration that added to the story. Overall, so glad I read this one and learned a lesson again about judging books by the covers. But, we all make that mistake and I'm sure I'll do it again.
Profile Image for Eliza.
593 reviews1,380 followers
January 8, 2020
What a touching story. Although it’s another 3-star read in the lineup of “average” books I’ve seemed to stumble upon, it’s certainly one that I enjoyed more than the others and will recommend to people who enjoy historical fiction (about more recent “history” to be accurate).

The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a novel that deals with the movement of refugees from Aleppo in Syria to Europe during the Syrian Civil War. And like I said, this is certainly a fiction novel, but it’s based on the author’s experience while volunteering in Athens at a refugee center. I wish I’d known that before reading the book, but it wasn’t until the Author Notes page that I found out. I think I would’ve felt more connected to the character with that knowledge.

The writing is lovely, and that’s a big reason behind why I gave this 3-stars (because to me, 3-stars is a good rating). The connection to the characters and story, while I did occasionally feel, was rather flighty and didn’t maintain its grip for long. That, and I did, sadly, find myself a little bored at times.

Other than those things, you’re just going to have to take my word that this is a book I think people should give a chance. It surrounds important topics (immigration, family, war, etc.), the writing is good, and what more do you need to give a book a chance?

Thank you to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for the ARC of this book!
Profile Image for Diane Barnes.
1,210 reviews453 followers
September 3, 2019
"Sometimes we create such powerful illusions, so that we do not get lost in the darkness".

That's pretty much what this book shows us by relating the story of Nuri and Afra, husband and wife who are beginning the long journey as refugees from Aleppo, after a bomb kills their 7 year old son. Nuri narrates the tale, and from the beginning we get a sense that something is wrong, as Nuri tries to stay strong to protect his wife, but ignores his own grief and disillusionment.

Read this novel at the risk of having to change your mind about refugees from anywhere, and what they have to endure as they lose home, family, and sense of safety.
Profile Image for Jennifer Blankfein.
379 reviews646 followers
August 17, 2020
Author Christy Lefteri is a daughter of refugees, and spent several summers volunteering with refugees in Greece. There is no doubt she beautifully and accurately taps into the suffering of her characters with a heartfelt storytelling of the emotional plight of Syrian refugees in The Beekeeper of Aleppo. This emotional story of a once happy couple shows the toll war takes on a human’s soul, and embraces the hope that exists, even in the worst of circumstances.

Finding it difficult to walk away from their treasured memories of family and country, Nuri and Afra must leave the civil war in Syria. Nuri, a dedicated beekeeper, feels pressure to make it safely to England. His wife, Afra, an accomplished artist who was blinded during an explosion that tragically killed their young son, has less motivation. Amidst residuals of emotional trauma, Nuri must be Afra’s eyes and her caretaker as they embark on this necessary, yet dreaded trip.

Part of the story is about how in 2015, the couple makes the life threatening journey to a seaside village in England. Dealing with dangerous sea crossings and smugglers, they venture to safety through Turkey and Greece. The other part, is the time they spend in a rooming house in England, waiting for asylum. Nuria and Afra cope with their personal demons in their own separate ways, often getting caught up in their thoughts. “Sometimes we create such powerful illusions, so that we do not get lost in the darkness.”

Both characters experience PTSD and feels disconnected when it comes to personal relationships. Many of their fears are due to traumatic experiences and even though Afra is the one without sight, there are times where they both lose their vision.

The Syrians in The Beekeeper of Aleppo. experienced tragedy, and lost so much when they escaped their beloved homeland, which became a war zone. Their search for freedom and safety was emotionally and physically tragic and deeply painful, yet I fully and completely loved this book. Christy Lefteri’s research and experiences have allowed her to get to the heart of the human emotions. With vivid prose and insight, she takes us to the lowest point of desperation while simultaneously revealing the hope that exists, even when we have lost everything. I highly recommend this book!
Profile Image for Krista.
785 reviews59 followers
August 24, 2019
Rating: 5 brilliantly buzzing stars

What a luminous and heartbreaking book about war and the effects on the people caught in its crosshairs. While this is often a tough read because of the circumstances that Afra and Nuri have to navigate, I highly recommend this to anyone who is interested in learning more about the conditions faced by refugees from Syria as they try to flee to safer ground.

I didn’t realize all the hurdles and intermediate stops that emigrants and refugees from Syria could face as they try to make a new life for themselves far from all they’ve known. This story so warmly shares the love that the beekeeper Nuri, his artist wife Afra, and their young son, Sami have for the town of Aleppo and the life they lived there. Then war comes crashing in and everything disintegrates. The vibrant colorful city is caked in layers of gray cement dust. Nuri and his cousin Mustafa’s beloved beehives are torched one day by one side or the other in the war. It doesn’t matter who did it, the bees from 500 beehives are gone. Killings are brutal and random. Life is cheap.

Eventually Nuri convinces the now blind Afra to leave Syria and try to join Mustafa and his remaining family in England. Many harrowing legs of this journey, and the intermediate way-stations are encountered in fits and starts. The desperation to leave, and the luck-of-the-draw randomness of who eventually arrives at their destination is written in lovely prose and thoughtful descriptions. No-one arrives unscathed by the experience, but still the human will to survive and thrive pushes them forward.

The Author’s Note at the end of the book described the author’s point of view that this was a book about blindness. I’d agree. It’s about Afra’s literal blindness, Nuri’s emotional blindness, and the majority of the world’s willful blindness to the tragedies of the refugee crises going on plain site.

This should be recommended reading for everyone. The intelligence and heart with which this story is told was harrowing and uplifting at the same time.

‘Thank-You’ to NetGalley; the publisher, Random House Publishing Group, Ballantine Books; and the author Christy Lefteri; for providing a free e-ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Nina.
699 reviews131 followers
June 8, 2022
There is so much pain and suffering in the world. Reading the beekeeper of Aleppo brought that home to me. Every day I see news updates about the war in Ukraine, school shootings and general unrest. The Beekeeper of Aleppo made the consequences of war more clear than reading news articles ever will. It was so beautifully written, that I immediately wanted to read it again. My emotions were all over the place. Sadness from reading about their son, anger over people exploiting others and general frustration over the world we live in. I will never forget the beekeeper of Aleppo, it was a thoroughly memorable story.
Profile Image for soren karimi.
259 reviews75 followers
February 26, 2021
بدون اغراق، از بهترین کتاب‌هایی که تابه‌حال خونده‌ام به‌حساب می‌آد.

داستان درباره‌ی زنبورداری سوری هست که جنگ همه‌چیزش رو ازش می‌گیره. مجبور می‌شه همراه خانواده‌اش از حلب و سوریه فرار کنه. مقصدش لندنه. مقصدی بلندپروازانه که مسیری دشوار داره؛ همه این رو بهش می‌گن. اما نوری مصممه بره اونجا.

این کتاب واقعاََ تونست دست دراز کنه و من رو لمس کنه. بااین‌که داستان پر از تلخی و رنجه، حس بسیار خوبی به من داد. امید داد.

گفتنیه که ماهرانه نوشته شده. روایت واقعاََ من رو سرحال آورد‌؛ در عین سادگی، ظرافت حیرت‌انگیزی داشت. شخصیت‌پردازی‌ها درخشانه و فضاها شما رو به خونه‌های مخروبه، شهرهای جنگ‌زده و مرز کشورهای مختلف می‌بره. شما رو واقعاََ می‌شونه همون‌جایی که شخصیت‌ها نشستن.

و می‌تونم با خیال راحت هرچقدر می‌خوام از ترجمه‌ی این کتاب تعریف کنم. نثر گیرا و گاهی شاعرانه‌ی این کتاب بهتر از این نمی‌تونست به فارسی ترجمه بشه.

من این کتاب رو به همه توصیه می‌کنم. هرکسی که داستان خوب می‌پسنده، پشیمون نمی‌شه.
Profile Image for Claude's Bookzone.
1,460 reviews182 followers
May 29, 2022
3.5 Stars

This is undoubtedly a moving story and I expected to be a blubbering mess as I have in other similar stories. However, I didn't feel a strong enough connection with Nuri to get fully invested. To be honest, at points I even felt a bit detached. I think as a mother I would have connected more with Afra, who was overcome with grief at the loss of her precious son. I suspect it was something to do with the writing itself. Same parts felt like a transcript of what was occurring and other parts where stunningly beautiful and the jump between the two styles was jarring. Still an absorbing story and I am glad to have read it.
Profile Image for Peter Boyle.
474 reviews573 followers
June 30, 2019
I don't think I'd have picked up this novel of my own accord. But I received it as a thoughtful gift so I felt I should at least give it a try. And I'm glad I did. It has given me a sense of what it means when your world is turned upside-down by a political situation that is outside your control, and of how difficult it is to put all the pieces back together again.

Nuri and his wife Afra are refugees in England, having made the long and perilous journey to escape the war in Syria. They are relieved to be safe from harm at last, but we get the sense that something is still not right. Afra is currently blind and Nuri has developed a habit of waking up in strange places. They're also waiting to hear if they will be granted asylum. Before war broke out in Aleppo, they had a comfortable life. Nuri enjoyed his job working as a beekeeper with his cousin Mustafa, and their business was booming. Afra was a successful artist. They had a young son, Sami, but he is not with them now.

The story alternates elegantly between a tense present day in England, the tumultuous period in Syria and the treacherous journey in between. Mustafa has already made it to the UK and Nuri communicates with him via email throughout, clinging to the hope that they can resume their beekeeping venture again one day. Meanwhile Nuri and Afra try to salvage their relationship from the horrors that have broken it.

I learned from a recent RTE interview that Christy Lefteri is the daughter of two war-affected parents. She also spent time in a Greek refugee camp, helping families who had arrived from Syria and Afghanistan. Her experience and knowledge of the situation shows, and the story feels very authentic as a result. The writing is fine without being spectacular, and there is one late twist that felt absolutely obvious from early on. But it's still a worthwhile read - an affecting, eye-opening tale of hope and survival.
Profile Image for آبتین گلکار.
Author 46 books1,085 followers
July 23, 2021
به نظرم می‌اومد در قبال این همه فجایعی که در سوریه اتفاق افتاده خوندن کتابی از این دست یک جور وظیفه‌ست. روایت ساده و البته ترجمة خوبی داشت و تا حد زیادی انتظاری که از کتاب داشتم برآورده شد، ولی ته دلم فکر می‌کنم ای کاش یک نویسندة حرفه‌ای پیدا بشه و دربارة همین مضمون کتاب بنویسه، به‌خصوص نویسندة قابلی که خودش این فجایع رو تجربه کرده باشه و نه این که صرفاً شنوندة روایت‌های پناه‌جویان بوده باشه. این اثر، با وجود شگردهای داستانی که توش هست، باز بیشتر به نثر و سبک روزنامه‌نگارانه نزدیکه تا یک رمان ادبی که به نظر من اون وقت قدرت و تأثیرگذاری بیشتری خواهد داشت
Profile Image for Lisa.
1,379 reviews518 followers
September 4, 2021
This novel about a couple forced to to leave Aleppo beautifully illuminates the difficulty of immigration. Nuri and Afra are both suffering from a terrible loss when forced to make the arduous journey from their beloved home to England. They each deal with their pain differently. I was very moved and found the simplicity of the narration well suited to the story.
Profile Image for Sana.
100 reviews55 followers
October 30, 2022
خیلی خوب بود دوستش داشتم اما خیلی رمان تلخی بود.
روایت اصلی این رمان درباره‌ی جنگ سوریه و بلایی که سر مردم سوریه ��وردند ودر آخر بیشترشون مهاجرت میکنن.
بااینکه اونقدر رمان قوی نبود اما خیلی خوب تونسته توصیفات جنگ سوریه و کاراکترهارو به تصویر بکشه‌.
به نظرم ارزش خوندن داره👌📚
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