This book was gifted to me via Netgalley from Zaffre Books.
Told in a dual time line, this book tells the story of Nuri and his wife, Afra and their treacherous and traumatic journey from war torn Syria to England, as well as showing them finally living in the UK. Nuri had a wonderful life in Syria, he was a beekeeper with his cousin, Mustafa. They sold their honey products all over the world, but when the war started their lives were completely destroyed. Mustafa and his family flee first to England, but something rather sad and poignant is holding Nuri and Afra back. Finally, he can take no more and leaves his life behind.
I adored this book!
It is so beautifully written and you instantly warm to Nuri. He is a simple man with a love for simple pleasures, but the journey to England changes him dramatically. For period of time, he believes he will never reach his destination. The only thing that keeps him going, are the regular emails from his cousin, raising his spirits and telling him all the wonderful things England has offered him.
I loved the way the book used a single word in chapters to transport us between his journey and the difficulties he faced. It was so cleverly created. All the references to bees, were beautiful and I learned so much about them from this book. I love coming away from fiction with new facts.
This book makes you appreciate how difficult life is for the refugees and I think sometimes we forget why they leave their country the first place. No one would leave unless they really had to, and this book demonstrates this so well. It isn't just their homes they leave behind, but also their families and all the fond memories they had. I can't even begin to imagine how terrifying that must be. Then to be treated like they were criminals when they do arrive and put through so much more, just to find a place to call home. My heart ached for Nuri, Afra and all the other refugees from other countries as they tried to escape. There were many who won't so lucky as Nuri. Many children found themselves without their parents, leading them to a life you wouldn't wish on your enemies.
I recently read The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Rauf, and I would say that The Beekeeper of Aleppo is the adult version of that book. You will need tissues by the end of this book, but it does make you realise that the toughest situations makes us stronger and there is always a silver lining at the end.