Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Flying Over Water” as Want to Read:
Flying Over Water
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Flying Over Water

4.44  ·  Rating details ·  180 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Twelve-year-old Noura Alwan's family is granted asylum in the United States, after spending two years in a Turkish refugee camp, having fled war-torn Aleppo. They land in Tampa, Florida, on January 30, 2017, just days after the president restricted entry into the US from nations with a Muslim majority population.

Twelve-year-old Jordyn Johnson is a record-breaking swimmer,
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published October 20th 2020 by Scholastic Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Flying Over Water, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Flying Over Water

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.44  · 
Rating details
 ·  180 ratings  ·  48 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Flying Over Water
Stephanie Fitzgerald
Jan 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Middle-grade readers and teachers
A book that truly puts a “human face” on the situation with the Syrian refugees. It also covers PTSD, grief recovery, and what true friendship is all about.
I would highly recommend this one for all middle-grade readers and teachers.
Fafa's Book Corner
Sep 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Review posted on Fafa's Book Corner!

Disclaimer: I received this E-ARC via Edelweiss+ and Qamar Blog Tours, as a part of the #FlyingOverWaterTour.

Trigger Warning(s): Islamophobia, mention of miscarriage, bullying, harassment, property vandalism, anxiety attacks, depression, and mention of war.

Rep: Noura and her family are Syrian Muslims. Noura has anxiety. Jordyn is a white Christian and has anxiety. Jordyn’s mother show signs of depression. Lea is Cuban. Joel is a white Jew. Amani is a Muslim.
Richie Partington
Aug 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Richie’s Picks: FLYING OVER WATER by Shannon Hitchcock and N.H. Senzai, Scholastic Press, October 2020, 272p., ISBN: 978-1-338-61766-5

“Life can be bright in America
If you can fight in America
Life is all right in America
If you’re all-white in America”
-- from West Side Story (1961)

“Friday, January 27, 2017: President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order that banned foreign nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries from visiting the country for 90 days, suspended entry to the country of
Farah  Fakhirah
Oct 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
⁣Noura is a refugee from Syria. As she settled on Florida, she struggled with many things--from adjusting to the culture, the school, and the amount of Islamophobia that she experiences. Meanwhile, there is Jordyn, one that is assigned as her partner. Jordyn is also going through her own crises, and their friendship together helps them overcome thay. ⁣⁣
This book background was in 2017, when Trump's Muslim Ban was enforced. As such, it discuss a lot of immigration issues and Islamophobia that N
prutha ✨
Read this review with many others on my blog

This is a masterpiece and a very, very important book that I urge you all to read.

This book is definitely one of the top ten books I read this year and it convinced me that Middle Grade is in fact, disguised philosophy. Don’t agree with me? Maybe the quotes I share might convince you.

Flying Over Water is a middle-grade novel that follows two main characters: Noura, a Syrian immigrant who travels to America along with her family for a second chance aft
lise hoyer
Feb 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read2021
Really good! Had very low expectations for Flying Over Water by N. H. Senzai and Shannon Hitchcock but it was really good!
Feb 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shannon Hitchcock knows how to seamlessly represent her characters as humans who can and should coexist. Highly recommend this book!!
Jan 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
This middle grades, upper elementary book is a character driven contemporary story of two friends with their own fears coming together: one a native of Tampa, the other one a refugee from Syria arriving in the US on the day Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban’ goes in to effect. In 272 pages of alternating narratives, two 12 year old girls find strength and kindness in themselves, in each other, and in many around them. Islamaphobia is focused on in the story, but the inclusion of diversity, Black Lives Matter, ...more
Jordyn and Noura are navigating life and its myriad heartaches, challenges, and joys. Told from the point of view of the two main characters and their families, the authors have given us a window and a mirror into lives guided by religious practices and buffeted by anxiety, microaggressions, prejudice and world events. But don’t think this book is a downer! The inspiring characters inspire bring you into their lives as you cheer for them, weep with them, and laugh alongside them..

Many books foc
Evidently Bookish
Oct 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
actual rating: 3.5 rounded up to 4

This book is a short and sweet but equally moving look at the trials faced by a family of Syrian refugees when they move to the United States. I feel like the first thing I need to say about this book is that despite some of its tough subject matter, it was so much more wholesome than I had expected – there was even a moment or two that drew some moisture to my eyes. What I hadn’t expected and what I’m endlessly grateful for is the incredibly accurate mental hea
Ms. Yingling
Jul 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
E ARC provided by Edelweiss

When Jordyn's mother offers to help Noura Alwan's family settle in Tampa, Florida, Jordyn hopes that it will improve her mother's mood. Since her mother had a miscarriage, the whole family has been out of sorts. Jordyn is finding it hard to go back to competitive swimming, and her mother is barely getting dressed. Noura's family has certainly had it tougher. Their home in Aleppo, Syria, as well as the hotel her father ran, were destroyed in bombings; Noura lost her bes
Nabila Shaikh
Flying over water is one of the best middle-grade books I’ve read so far. It follows Noura, a Syrian refugee trying to adjust to life in America, and Jordyn, a girl who’s facing anxiety and unable to swim well as she relives the trauma of her mom experiencing a miscarriage during the time of one of her swim meets every time she enters the water.

This book served as a reminder about why I love middle-grade books so much. I haven’t ever related to any Muslim character as much as I did to Noura whic
Twelve-year-old Noura Alwan and her family arrive in Tampa, Florida where they've been granted asylum right on the heels of the executive ban against Muslim travel in early 2017. They've left behind all that is familiar in Aleppo, Syria for a stay in a refugee camp in Turkey, and now have settled in the United States even though Noura's mother would have preferred that they move to Germany where other members have her family have fled. Noura's transition is eased by the presence of Jordyn, a cla ...more
Rosi Hollinbeck
Nov 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shannon Hitchcock and N. H. Senzai have written a wonderful book, told from the points of view of two 7th-grade girls, one a native-born American girl, the other a new immigrant, a Muslim girl whose family has come from a Syrian refugee camp. Noura and her twin brother, Ammar, arrive in Tampa Bay, Florida, with their parents and little brother, Ismail. Noura is terrified of water, so flying over so much water was really, really hard for her. They are met at the airport by the news that the presi ...more
Laura Gardner
Sep 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Can’t wait to see this on shelves! Out 10/20/20
Thank you to the publisher, @scholasticinc for this free book to share with @kidlitexchange; I loved it!
Flying Over Water is the dual narrative of two twelve year old girls living in Tampa, Florida. Noura and her family have just moved to Florida from a refugee camp after escaping Syria years ago; she and her twin brother Ammar are trying to adjust to their new life. Jordyn is a white, upper-middle class girl who is tasked with being Noura's gui
Jan 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

This beautiful MG story, told in two voices, is one you’ll be thinking about for a long time. Each seventh grade narrator is penned by an #ownvoices author, which lends much authenticity to this refugee story. It is a diary of two seventh grade girls, Noura and Jordyn, who became friends in 2017 just before the ban of Syrian Muslim immigrants to the U.S. It is the story of a Noura’s Syrian refugee Muslim family whose application for immigration is accepted after enduring two long years
Oct 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Flying Over Water (2020 Scholastic Press) by N. H. Senzai & Shannon Hitchcock
Jordyn recognizes her mom is depressed after suffering a miscarriage. This traumatic event affects Jordyn too as she experiences panic attacks. The family is open about her mom and Jordyn seeing a therapist and medication that helps her mom cope with the family’s loss. Jordyn’s story weaves nicely into Noura’s story. Noura is a Syrian refugee who has moved to Tampa where Jordyn lives. Through the church that Jordyn and
Virginia McGee Butler
Dec 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Flying Over Water rotates between the views of twelve-year-olds Jordyn Johnson, a record-breaking swimmer, who has not swum well since her mother’s miscarriage at one of her swim meets, and Noura Alwan, newly arrived in Tampa with her family as refugees fleeing the Syrian Civil War. Through their church, Jordyn’s family becomes friends with the Alwan family as they help them learn to navigate their new home country in 2017.

The chapters rotate seamlessly between the two girls. While bigotry that
Oct 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
TW // war, Islamophobia, miscarriage

[though there is no explicit description for any of these]

5/5 stars.

First off, thanks to @qamarblogtours for hosting this book tour and letting me be part of it!

Flying over water is a middle school story that follows two girls, Noura and Jordyn, as they learn to overcome their individual fears and pave a path of unity and love for themselves.

The story starts when Noura, a Syrian refugee, arrives in America amidst Trump’s Muslim ban, and tells the highs and l
I received a copy of this book from Scholastic Canada in exchange for an honest review.

Flying Over Water tells the story in alternative perspectives from a white American girl and a Muslim girl who has just arrived in the US as a refugee from Syria. The story takes places at the start of the Muslim ban in 2017. The two girls both have their own painful experiences that traumas and together, they are able to lend each other strength and encouragement through friendship.

This middle grade novel is
Shan Salter
Jan 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
Thanks to the @kidlitexchange network for the review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

By S. Hitchcock & N. H. Senzai

This page-turning dual point-of-view middle-grade novel tells the stories of Noura, a Syrian refugee, and Jordyn, the student ambassador who welcomes Noura and her twin brother to their new school in Tampa, Florida.

As the girls become better acquainted, they realize they are both battling demons and set about helping each other. But bigger issues are goi
Dina E
Oct 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I can’t even begin to say how much I LOVE this book. Flying Over Water highlights that life is full of challenges and joys, and that things don’t always work out as you hope they will. This story is so important for people to read, and I really hope that it gets the love and attention it deserves.

Flying Over Water encompasses a lot of different themes, which at first I was skeptical about, but the book does an amazing job at tying in so many different aspects of life. Flying Over Water really ca
Jan 24, 2021 rated it liked it
This is a book I really wanted to like more. The subject of Syrian refugees settling into life in America is important. The problem is that Hitchcock and Senzai seemed to try to work every major current event that happened during 2017 into the narrative, so to me the story felt didactic and forced. I think this would have actually worked better as a non-fiction book featuring some of the remarkable refugees they mention, like Muzoon Almellehan and Mohammed Qutaish, and providing real life pictur ...more
Apr 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
What if you were a refugee who finally arrived safely in Tampa, Florida, but your best friend drowned during her trip? What if you’re a champion swimmer who suddenly panics during a meet? What if these two middle school girls’ lives connect and they help each other be brave? Then you’d have a successful book about friendship and courage like “Flying Over Water”.

This chapter book, told in alternate voices of the two girls, intertwines refugee history, current events (such as the 2017 mosque arson
Sep 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read an advanced reader copy of this book and hope that it will be incorporated into school and church lesson plans. It presents some important values--welcoming the stranger, tolerance of all religious beliefs, and overcoming fears--told from the perspectives of two 7th graders. It also shows civics in action as the two narrators develop a bond of friendship that is stronger than the bigoted actions of some in the community. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am glad to see such good writing ...more
Natalie Morales
Apr 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
I thought that this book had a sweet message of friendship and hope. It's a story about two girls Jordan and Noura. Noura has just arrived to Tampa Florida and she arrived here on plane from Syria. She is a refugee and her family wants a better life in America. When they arrive people outside the Airport are shouting to go home and marching about the Muslim ban that happened in 2017. She is new in school and she learns English and makes new friends with Jordan who is a competitive swimmer. They ...more
I enjoyed this book about 2 friends from different backgrounds who are learning to cope with stress and anxiety. One is a new American who came to Florida as a refugee from Syria and the other is experiencing a familial loss.

Although written about middle schoolers, this book could be comfortably read with younger children. It deals with some of the reasons people flee their beloved homelands and the bureaucracy they face when trying to find a place of safety. Squarely set in recent times (Noura’
Shannon Parkin
Jan 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Reading this book as Trump's ban on Muslims was being lifted made this terrific book all the more extraordinary. The middle school children realize how they all benefit from the prayer room that was set up. This is a quiet place where they can pray as Muslims, Jews, and Christians or practice meditation exercises recommended by a therapist. In addition, this place allows them to support each other as they decorate it together as a team. And they work together to voice the importance of this room ...more
Oct 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Another powerful look at immigration, told in two voices. Noura Alwan and her family are refugees from Syria. Jordyn and her family are helping to get the Alwans settled in Tampa, Florida. Set against the backdrop of Trump's Muslim ban in 2017, this is a moving story of resilience, friendship, and the power of words. Highly recommended for grades 4 & up.

eARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Land of the Cranes
  • A Thousand Questions
  • A Place at the Table
  • War Stories
  • Red, White, and Whole
  • Tune It Out
  • The Sea in Winter
  • The Prettiest
  • Dear Edward
  • The Canyon's Edge
  • One of Us Is Next (One of Us Is Lying, #2)
  • Allergic: A Graphic Novel
  • My Life in the Fish Tank
  • American as Paneer Pie
  • The Hand on the Wall (Truly Devious, #3)
  • Just Like That
  • Three Keys (Front Desk, #2)
  • Beach Read
See similar books…
SHANNON HITCHCOCK grew up in rural North Carolina on a 100-acre farm. Her extended family and love of the south are integral to her stories. Shannon is the author of ONE TRUE WAY, (Scholastic 2018), RUBY LEE & ME, (Scholastic 2016), and the Crystal Kite Award-winning, THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL. Shannon's picture book biography, OVERGROWN JACK was nominated for the Sue Alexander Most Promising New ...more

Related Articles

  Tami Charles is a former teacher and the author of picture books, middle grade and young adult novels, and nonfiction. As a teacher, she made...
45 likes · 65 comments
“It bothered me that a group of people had to march on the streets to demand that their very lives mattered” 0 likes
More quotes…