Book review: The Boy From Aleppo Who Painted The War By Sumia Sukkar

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Blurb:

Readers have been falling in love with this extraordinary novel for its compassionate storytelling, wonderful characters and fearless honesty.

This is the story of a family as they struggle to survive in present-day Syria, seen through the eyes of a boy with a remarkable mind. Adam describes with unflinching accuracy the disintegrating world around him. Yasmine, his beautiful sister, tries to protect him, even as her own life is put in danger.

When the war between government and rebel forces tears their lives apart, Adam and Yasmine become refugees, escaping Aleppo and heading out into the ruined country towards sanctuary. Along the way, they encounter ever-present danger and temptation on this shattered road to Damascus.

My Thoughts:

***5 stars***

I was sent this book to review honestly for Buzz magazine. A shorter version of this review is in this November issue.

This book was so awesome! I read it in 2 days… while I was meant to be a host. Would have read it in less time if I didn’t have to go to work. lol. I was sucked in so quickly I don’t even know what hit me. The author showcases the realities of war time through the eyes of a boy with Aspergers. The story starts when everything is kinda normal, but the world around them changes very quickly as the government and rebel forces battle it out. From the death (bodies literally everywhere), to the hunger (he tries to eat paint!), Sumia paints a powerful picture of what the people of Aleppo are going through.

I loved Adams view of the world around him. There was so much innocence and purity. Adam doesn’t filter, he doesn’t embellish. He tells you what he sees, and a lot of it just doesn’t make sense. He doesn’t understand politics, so his view of the good guys and the bad guys is simple. If you’re holding a gun and killing innocent people in the streets or their homes, You’re the bad guy. <<<< YES! Because if you love your country, why are you destroying it? <<<<< Uh Huh.

Adam sees the world in colours. He describes people using colours depending on how they are feeling or making him feel. He loves to paint, and expresses himself via paintings. This helps him process a lot of the things he experiences throughout the book. I found myself wondering if Adam’s paintings exist anywhere. After their descriptions, I paused to picture every single one in my minds eye. The author is extremely good at describing things! (That probably sounds silly… maybe an obvious trait for a writer? But whatever, that’s what I felt while reading the book. So that’s what you get!)

A few chapters are written from Yasmines perspective. I think the Author uses it to show some of the things women specifically go through during war. Its an awful reality that sexual violence is rampant in war zones (Its still a major issue in non-war times, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish). She also explores Yasmine’s feelings about taking on the role of ‘mother’ after the loss of her own. She embraces the challenge, but she has sacrificed some of herself.

Though this is quite a serious read, there are still droplets of humour scattered here and there. They kind of take you by surprise because you definitely know you should’t be laughing while reading about war! Its very well executed dark humour.

Definitely worth reading this book! Its a powerful story about war and hope. There is always hope.

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