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Escape from Aleppo
2018
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After Nadia is separated from her family while fleeing the civil war, she spends the next four days with a mysterious old man who helps her navigate the checkpoints and snipers of the rebel, ISIS, and Syrian armies that are littering Aleppo on her way tomeeting her father at the Turkish border. - (Baker & Taylor)

“Filled with kindness and hope, but also with the harsh realities of the horrors of war, this heartbreaking book is a necessary reminder of what many people live through every day.” —Booklist (starred review)

Nadia’s family is forced to flee their home in Aleppo, Syria, when the Arab Spring sparks a civil war in this timely coming-of-age novel from award-winning author N.H. Senzai.

Silver and gold balloons. A birthday cake covered in pink roses. A new dress.

Nadia stands at the center of attention in her parents’ elegant dining room. This is the best day of my life, she thinks. Everyone is about to sing “Happy Birthday,” when her uncle calls from the living room, “Baba, brothers, you need to see this.” Reluctantly, she follows her family into the other room. On TV, a reporter stands near an overturned vegetable cart on a dusty street. Beside it is a mound of smoldering ashes. The reporter explains that a vegetable vendor in the city of Tunis burned himself alive, protesting corrupt government officials who have been harassing his business. Nadia frowns.

It is December 17, 2010: Nadia’s twelfth birthday and the beginning of the Arab Spring. Soon anti-government protests erupt across the Middle East and, one by one, countries are thrown into turmoil. As civil war flares in Syria and bombs fall across Nadia’s home city of Aleppo, her family decides to flee to safety. Inspired by current events, this novel sheds light on the complicated situation in Syria that has led to an international refugee crisis, and tells the story of one girl’s journey to safety. - (Simon and Schuster)

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Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Nadia is enjoying the best day of her life as her friends and loved ones are gathered around her, ready to sing "Happy Birthday," when news arrives of Mohamed Bouazizi, a young man who set himself on fire to protest harassment and corruption of government officials in Tunisia. Nadia is not aware, but the elders in her family look on as the protests of the Tunisian Revolution begin to grow and spread into the Arab Spring, which soon finds its way to Nadia's doorstep. As her family attempts to flee to Turkey and reunite with her father, their home is bombed and Nadia is left behind. With her cat, Mishmish, and the help of an old, mysterious man—Ammo Mazen—Nadia begins the journey. Flashbacks of Nadia's life before the war are interspersed with those detailing her struggles to find her father. Nadia gains courage and trust throughout her journey, thanks to her companions, all while struggling to understand why there is such sadness and unfairness in this world. Filled with kindness and hope, but also with the harsh realities of the horrors of war, this heartbreaking book is a necessary reminder of what many people live through every day. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 5–8—Nadia is a typical 12-year-old who enjoys getting manicures, watching Arab Idol, and hanging out with her friends, but world events interrupt her life as government protests in Tunisia kickstart the Arab Spring. Three years later, things are much different in Syria: a civil war is raging; her uncle, a victim of the toppling Assad regime, is suspiciously killed; and a bombing has left her scarred with painful shrapnel in her leg and a fear of going outside. Her family is forced to evacuate during a bombing; when a bomb hits their home, Nadia is separated from them and left for dead in the rubble. Making her way quickly to the rendezvous point proves unsuccessful but with the help of some unlikely allies with their own agendas, she is able to continue her journey, fleeing towards the safety of the Turkish border and hopefully reunification with her family. In addition to an exploration of the Arab Spring and Syrian Civil War, Senzai's story is also about the importance of cultural preservation, modern family life, and a mystery surrounding a key character, Mazzan, and his connections to historical preservation. Several unlikely plot twists and unrealistic resolutions slow down the pace and may lose some young readers. The dialogue and reactions of the heroine do not always feel like that of a young teenager. VERDICT The storytelling is slow at times, but the representation of a young protagonist from Syria makes this a solid purchase for middle grade collections.—Rebecca Gueorguiev, New York Public Library

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal.

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