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The Beekeeper of Aleppo

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  98,426 ratings  ·  9,764 reviews
The unforgettable love story of a mother blinded by loss and her husband who insists on their survival as they undertake the Syrian refugee trail to Europe.

Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo--until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, the
Hardcover, 317 pages
Published August 27th 2019 by Ballantine Books (first published May 2nd 2019)
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Dorothy Dupree
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Crys I want to echo the person who mentioned that bees/beekeeping and what they come to represent ARE an integral part of the story. There's not a lot of t…moreI want to echo the person who mentioned that bees/beekeeping and what they come to represent ARE an integral part of the story. There's not a lot of technical content related to beekeeping, though, no. The narrator does repeatedly come back to his memories of beekeeping, the sounds of the bees, different strategies for interacting with the bees, different types of bees, how he learned to do different things with/for the bees, etc. And the bee/beekeeping content never disappears; there is talk of bees and beekeeping up through the very end of the story.(less)

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Average rating 4.19  · 
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 ·  98,426 ratings  ·  9,764 reviews

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“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 amon
Angela M
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing

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
Nilufer Ozmekik
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 fi
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 l
Margaret M (Semi hiatus until October)
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
Jul 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
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
Dec 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘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 th
Sep 27, 2019 rated it really liked it

In 2015, Nuri and his wife Afra from Aleppo, Syria decide to leave their war ravaged country where they suffered many losses 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!
Elyse  Walters
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 for
Aug 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, book-clubs
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 putt
Dec 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cultural
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,
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war
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
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 question
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 t ...more
Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
“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
Sep 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 h
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
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 ma
Diane Barnes
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
"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 ri
Jennifer Blankfein
Dec 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 fr
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 exp
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
Peter Boyle
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 reliev
Sep 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
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.
Dash fan
5☆ An Unmissable Read!

The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a poignant, thought provoking and highly Compelling story of courage, determination, survival, starting over and escaping the horrors of war.

It's a riveting, real, authentic and very moving story about a husband and wife losing everything, becoming refugee's and there desperate need for survival and belonging in a very different world of uncertainties.
I adore all the wonderful facts and information about the bees. It melted my heart how Nuri cared
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

Oh look, it’s an immigration story written by a “white” person. With zero controversy surrounding its release and a 4.23 rating. Yeah, keep telling yourself the uprising about American Dirt wasn’t about the money. But I digress. The Beekeeper of Aleppo is the story of Nuri and Afra and their journey from Syria in attempts to seek asylum in Britain after the war breaks out and they lose everything. Both suffer from their own forms o
Claude's Bookzone
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 pa
Tamara Agha-Jaffar
The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri is the emotionally compelling story of a Syrian refugee couple as they undertake the perilous journey from Aleppo to England to escape the Syrian civil war.

The story unfolds in the first-person narrative of Nuri Ibrahim. Together with his cousin Mustafa, Nuri runs a successful beekeeping farm in Aleppo. The only thing that exceeds his passion for bees is his passion for his wife, Afra, and their young son, Sami. With the outbreak of civil war, their liv
Mar 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: political, mena-lit
“𝙎𝙤𝙢𝙚𝙩𝙞𝙢𝙚𝙨 𝙬𝙚 𝙘𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙩𝙚 𝙨𝙪𝙘𝙝 𝙥𝙤𝙬𝙚𝙧𝙛𝙪𝙡 𝙞𝙡𝙡𝙪𝙨𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙨, 𝙨𝙤 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙬𝙚 𝙙𝙤 𝙣𝙤𝙩 𝙜𝙚𝙩 𝙡𝙤𝙨𝙩 𝙞𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙙𝙖𝙧𝙠𝙣𝙚𝙨𝙨.” 🕯⁣⁣⁣
The line above is quite frankly the best way to summarise this heartbreaking book. A gripping account of the realistic plight of Syrian refugees, The Beekeeper of Aleppo traces the challenging journey of fleeing couple Nuri and Afra (beekeeper and artist respectfully) from their once-prosperous hometown of Aleppo, across Europe to the UK. ⁣🇸🇾🇬🇧⁣⁣
The utter devastation and anguish of witnessing the
Marcell Shehwaro
Mar 11, 2020 rated it did not like it
It simplifies the refugees all over again. They don't have opinions, only situation "Traumatic" ones that happens to them and they survive it.

Afraa, summarize why writing about others is not always a good idea. Syrian women, me included, do much more than wrap and unwrap their Hijab for ten chapters. She lost her kid and had zero interesting dialogue sentence.

Of course Afraa and Nore doesn't face racism in their way to Europe, only helpful and nice volunteers.
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Christy Lefteri was born in London in 1980 to Greek Cypriot parents who moved to London in 1974 during the Turkish invasion. 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.

Articles featuring this book

There's something great about a paperback book: They're perfect book club choices, you can throw them in your bag and go, and they've been out in...
61 likes · 19 comments
“Where there are bees there are flowers, and wherever there are flowers there is new life and hope.” 77 likes
“But in Syria there is a saying: inside the person you know, there is a person you do not know.” 53 likes
More quotes…