Homes: A Refugee Story Info

Check Reviews and find answers for biographies of leaders, outstanding people and big historical figures. Before downloading your favorite book see our picks for the best biographies and memoirs of 2019. Read&Download Homes: A Refugee Story by al Rabeeah,Abu Bakr,Winnie Yeung Online


In 2010, the al Rabeeah family left their home in Iraq in
hope of a safer life. They moved to Homs, in Syria ― just before the
Syrian civil war broke out.

Abu Bakr, one of eight children, was
ten years old when the violence began on the streets around him: car
bombings, attacks on his mosque and school, firebombs late at night.
Homes tells of the strange juxtapositions of growing up in a
war zone: horrific, unimaginable events punctuated by normalcy ― soccer,
cousins, video games, friends.

Homes is the remarkable
true story of how a young boy emerged from a war zone ― and found
safety in Canada ― with a passion for sharing his story and telling the
world what is truly happening in Syria. As told to her by Abu Bakr al
Rabeeah, writer Winnie Yeung has crafted a heartbreaking, hopeful, and
urgently necessary book that provides a window into understanding Syria.


Average Ratings and Reviews
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4.36

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Ratings and Reviews From Market


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Reviews for Homes: A Refugee Story:

5

Oct 26, 2018

This is not a book. This is an achievement.

For every person who doesn't understand the global refugee crisis or the hate that drives policies to close borders, this book is an eye-opener.

For every person that has survived war and is trying to find a safe home for their children, this is a book of hope.

For every person from Edmonton who lives overseas as an English teacher, this story will bring tears of pride to your eyes. Because Canada knows our responsibility to accept people running from This is not a book. This is an achievement.

For every person who doesn't understand the global refugee crisis or the hate that drives policies to close borders, this book is an eye-opener.

For every person that has survived war and is trying to find a safe home for their children, this is a book of hope.

For every person from Edmonton who lives overseas as an English teacher, this story will bring tears of pride to your eyes. Because Canada knows our responsibility to accept people running from horrible circumstances. Also, we have amazing, dedicated teachers who makes dreams come true.

Bakr's story has the potential to be the next great textbook. It is not fiction like Animal Farm. It is not fantasy like Lord of the Rings. It is autobiographical in the vein of Anne Frank or Malala Yousafzai. It is story of escape, and the world must always strive to create places not just to escape to, but to eliminate the need to escape from a place at all.

Perhaps in the future, everywhere on earth can be home. ...more
4

Jan 27, 2019

HOMES: A REFUGEE STORY by Abu Baker Al Rabeeah with Winnie Yeung
is a charming and warm-hearted book. It is a refugee story like no other.
In 2010, the al Rabeeah family left their home in Iraq in hopes of a safer life. They moved to Homs, Syria.
Abu Bakr, one of eight children, was ten years old when the civil war broke out on the streets around him. HOMES is his remarkable true story of growing up in a war zone and ultimately finding safety in Canada. With his parent's blessing, Abu Bakr told HOMES: A REFUGEE STORY by Abu Baker Al Rabeeah with Winnie Yeung
is a charming and warm-hearted book. It is a refugee story like no other.
In 2010, the al Rabeeah family left their home in Iraq in hopes of a safer life. They moved to Homs, Syria.
Abu Bakr, one of eight children, was ten years old when the civil war broke out on the streets around him. HOMES is his remarkable true story of growing up in a war zone and ultimately finding safety in Canada. With his parent's blessing, Abu Bakr told his life's story to high school English teacher, Winnie Yeung in Edmonton. This heartbreaking, hopeful, and eye-opening book is about one family's journey to find a new home.
This captivating read is short listed for Canada Reads 2019.
4.5 hopeful stars ⭐️️⭐️️⭐️️⭐️️

** Edited on March 7, 2019

HOMES: A REFUGEE STORY is the first Canadian book that has been chosen for global digital book club 'Big Library Read'.
Congratulations to Abu Baker Al Rabeeah and Winnie Yeung! ...more
5

Jul 15, 2019

!!!!!this book wrecked me!!!!!

homes is the story of a young boy as he and his family flee from their home country of iraq to syria in attempt to escape the war. this is one of the most devastating yet hopeful memoirs i have ever read

abu bakr lays out his life in such a simple, charming way that is so digestible and so impactful

he speaks about his life in iraq, the move to syria, the smiles and teasings from his father, the bullets and explosions and terrors, working at his father's bakery, !!!!!this book wrecked me!!!!!

homes is the story of a young boy as he and his family flee from their home country of iraq to syria in attempt to escape the war. this is one of the most devastating yet hopeful memoirs i have ever read

abu bakr lays out his life in such a simple, charming way that is so digestible and so impactful

he speaks about his life in iraq, the move to syria, the smiles and teasings from his father, the bullets and explosions and terrors, working at his father's bakery, waking up to the sound of gun shots, running through the streets with his mischievous cousins; he tells his story and the story of so many other children who had to grow up too fast bc of a war they had no say in

“When people in the West hear Iraq, they instantly think of Saddam Hussein and the Gulf War. But when I think about my home country, I remember the honey-drenched baklava my aunts gave me, the pinches on my cheeks, affectionate tickles under my chin, and coos of laughter”
reading this book was like watching a movie unfold in front of my eyes. the writing was incredible, it really took the time to set the scene and detail out the mundane events of his life while also highlighting the trials he had to endure on a daily basis

there were devastating moments, there were moments of panic, there were laughs and smiles and cheeky comments, there was love and brotherhood, their was pain and loss, and there was hope.

this young boy has experienced so much in such a short amount of time and his ability to stay positive and happy despite it all made my heart crack.

“Life must always go on, Bakr. Death doesn’t matter. Money doesn’t matter. Even life itself doesn’t matter, son. What matters is living your life with your family, with the people you love. We love each other, hard, and hold on tight. What we face, we face together. Together, we move forward and every little happiness we can have, we enjoy. We cannot let hatred and fear stop us from living.”
i am absolutely floored ...more
4

Feb 24, 2019

Homes is the story of Abu Bakr al Rabeeah, as told to Winnie Yeung, about his family’s life in both Iraq and Syria before moving to Canada as refugees in 2015.

For as long as I can remember, there has always been some sort of conflict ongoing in the Middle East. Despite seeing it on the news regularly, I would say that I was pretty apathetic to it all. That isn’t to say that I didn’t understand the tragic nature of an endless war, but it’s difficult to comprehend the enormity of it all. Abu Bakr’ Homes is the story of Abu Bakr al Rabeeah, as told to Winnie Yeung, about his family’s life in both Iraq and Syria before moving to Canada as refugees in 2015.

For as long as I can remember, there has always been some sort of conflict ongoing in the Middle East. Despite seeing it on the news regularly, I would say that I was pretty apathetic to it all. That isn’t to say that I didn’t understand the tragic nature of an endless war, but it’s difficult to comprehend the enormity of it all. Abu Bakr’s Homes puts a face and a family to the horrors of daily life halfway around the world.

The story begins in Iraq where the Al Rabeeah family spends their days dodging the constant threat of violence as death seemingly lurks around every corner. Finally, fed up with a life lived in fear, the family moves to the town of Homs in Syria. Unfortunately, this is just prior to the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War. In an effort to find peace, they leave Homs for Damascus where the violence will again follow them.

This is an especially heartbreaking read because the author witnessed all of this horror before even reaching fifteen. There are many moments where the family needs to keep quiet and hunker down when hearing explosions and the staccato beat of automatic gunfire outside their home. A few moments later, when the noise ceases, Abu Bakr and his cousins would boot up their PlayStation to play some soccer. It’s something I just can’t imagine dealing with during my childhood – or even now for that matter.

Like Max Eisen’s By Chance Alone, books like Homes are more important now than ever. In an age where people are more egotistical, self-obsessed and apathetic, books like Homes are sorely needed, if only for people to develop a sense of empathy for those looking for understanding and a helping hand. ...more
4

Mar 23, 2019

I still have one more book on the shortlist to read before the Canada Reads debates start on Monday, but as of right now this is my pick for the win.

Homes is a gracefully written book that really captures what this year's Canada Reads theme is - a book to move you. It's the story of a young boy's life growing up in the midst of the civil war in Syria as his family hopes to be approved for refugee status in Canada. Entirely told from his perspective, it offers a unique context to the important I still have one more book on the shortlist to read before the Canada Reads debates start on Monday, but as of right now this is my pick for the win.

Homes is a gracefully written book that really captures what this year's Canada Reads theme is - a book to move you. It's the story of a young boy's life growing up in the midst of the civil war in Syria as his family hopes to be approved for refugee status in Canada. Entirely told from his perspective, it offers a unique context to the important issue of war, violence, faith, and the ongoing refugee crisis. It's one thing to see it in soundbites and clips on the news, it's quite another thing to read personal accounts - especially from that of a child, so pure of heart and so far removed from the particulars of war and the adults who start them. Even the fact that this book is the result of that boy, finally living in Canada, dictating his story to his favourite teacher after answering "I want to share my story" to her question of "what is one of your wishes?" is moving enough all its own.

One part of Bakr's story that really stood out to me - and moved me - was the game he played with one of his friends, in which they collected as many bullet casings as they could find in the streets on their walks home from school and tried to out-collect the other. This hit me so hard for a few reasons. The first being just the thought that despite the havoc and carnage the grown-ups were causing, the children found a way to still be children, despite the gruesome fact of what their new toy/game was. When Bakr and his little friend realize the reality of the casings, that the reason they were scattered throughout the streets meant that people had been shot at, and it ruins the fun of their game, it hit me that much harder. The innocence of children being slowly but brutally ripped away from them in such a way is truly heartbreaking.

But this isn't only moving because of its heartbreaking aspects. Bakr and his family do eventually arrive safely in Canada and begin anew. It only takes up the last part of the book, and while Bakr and his family work tirelessly to adapt, it is heartwarming to read about.

Other than that, I feel like this is a book that doesn't need a whole lot of speaking to be done on its behalf (though I am looking forward to Simple Plan's Chuck Comeau defending it in the debates) because it speaks sufficiently and beautifully on its own. Not only is it a moving book, it's an accessible book for readers and non-readers alike, young and old, to learn more about the realities of the Syrian civil war and what it means to be a refugee through one family's story as told through the eyes of a child. ...more
4

Mar 26, 2019

“How could the God of my gentle father be the same God of those crazy fanatics who killed in the name of Islam? I hated those people the most. How could they take something so loving and peaceful and twist it to justify violence and murder? Those people cannot really be Muslim because my God was about love, peace, charity.”

Stories like this are so necessary, especially as anti-immigrant sentiments are on the rise in Canada and other countries. The al Rabeeah family only wants what all “How could the God of my gentle father be the same God of those crazy fanatics who killed in the name of Islam? I hated those people the most. How could they take something so loving and peaceful and twist it to justify violence and murder? Those people cannot really be Muslim because my God was about love, peace, charity.”

Stories like this are so necessary, especially as anti-immigrant sentiments are on the rise in Canada and other countries. The al Rabeeah family only wants what all refugee/immigrant families want: safety and the possibility of a better future. Homes: A Refugee Story is the story of the al Rabeeah family, as told by one of their eight children, Abu Bakr. He was only ten years old when violence erupted around him, and Homes follows his family through their move from Iraq, to Syria, and eventually to Canada. He witnessed unimaginable horror in the form of car/suicide bombings, attacks and massacres in the streets, at his school, in his mosque, checkpoints manned by power-hungry “soldiers,” firebombs and more. Perhaps most striking though, was the way that events of war were contrasted with the normalcy of growing up. For example, I was deeply saddened by the following recollection: “Clutching the garbage bag, I headed towards the park down the street. There, beneath a tree, just a month after my thirteenth birthday, I buried a man’s jawbone.” This was followed, one page later, with memories of “…the honey-drenched baklava my aunts gave me, the pinches on my cheeks, affectionate tickles under my chin, and the coos of laughter…” and Bakr frequently discusses his childhood spent with his cousins and friends, playing soccer and video games. Homes is an account of adapting to and growing up in a war zone, where even the sound of machine guns eventually fades into the background.

When saying goodbye to his cousins and friends, Bakr promises them that he will tell his story. And he does, with the help of his English as a Second Language teacher, Winnie Yeung, who listened to his experiences and wrote the book that I hold today. The story is simply told, and I think Yeung did a great job of capturing Bakr’s voice and experience. The voice of a teenager is unique for this type of memoir and made it even more moving, but on the other hand, I almost wish that Bakr waited to tell his story until he could write more of it himself, and until he could reflect more fully on the events. For example, by the end of the book, the family is still relatively new to Canada, with the following quote illustrating one aspect of their difficult adjustment process: “It was a relief to be in a place free of the shabiha and snipers, but none of us had ever imagined the solitude we would face. We had traded the raucous, tearing war for a suffocating, quiet safety. No one could tell which was better, which was worse. It was both and neither.” It would have been nice to see more of their time in Canada, and I hope to be able to hear more about the family in the coming years. I am invested in their story and wellbeing.

It is impossible to read this book without empathizing with the family’s fear and distress. Homes is a fantastic read for adults and young adults alike – it is accessible, educational, and thought-provoking, and it provides a very human face to refugees who are often dehumanized by certain world leaders. ...more
3

Feb 25, 2019

Syrian refugees - we rallied and donated clothes and household items to help families locally get settled, we see new Immigrants on the news grateful to be here - yet we miss their personal stories. This simply written book explains the background we need to be truly empathetic. I’m grateful that the author shared his story, he shone a great light on the details of his life, and the universal struggle and hope for safety and security that comes with Homes.

A YA classification would bring this Syrian refugees - we rallied and donated clothes and household items to help families locally get settled, we see new Immigrants on the news grateful to be here - yet we miss their personal stories. This simply written book explains the background we need to be truly empathetic. I’m grateful that the author shared his story, he shone a great light on the details of his life, and the universal struggle and hope for safety and security that comes with Homes.

A YA classification would bring this book to many high schoolers, I will encourage my teenager to read it. ...more
4

Jul 21, 2018

Abu Bakr al Rabeeah is a teenage Syrian refugee living in Edmonton with his family. There, he met ESL teacher Winnie Yeung, and they embarked together on the project of telling his and his family’s story. It’s simply told, moving, and thought-provoking - it made me think about the juxtaposition of the ordinary trappings of childhood like soccer and skipping school with the utter fear and devastation wrought by car bombs and massacres. Also the immense challenges faced by parents trying to keep Abu Bakr al Rabeeah is a teenage Syrian refugee living in Edmonton with his family. There, he met ESL teacher Winnie Yeung, and they embarked together on the project of telling his and his family’s story. It’s simply told, moving, and thought-provoking - it made me think about the juxtaposition of the ordinary trappings of childhood like soccer and skipping school with the utter fear and devastation wrought by car bombs and massacres. Also the immense challenges faced by parents trying to keep their children safe in all of this, as well as, later, the difficulty of adapting to an entirely new culture, climate and language. Well worth reading. ...more
4

Mar 16, 2019

A quick read to get a taste of the refugee experience. al Rabeeah and his teacher were astute to take on this project, to document what happened to him, and to help the rest of us even begin to understand it. It has a YA feel, and as others have said, would be a great start for a younger crowd on the topic of international war and being a refugee.

Another reminder that it might well be true that Canada is the greatest country in the world. Even with its winters.
4

Feb 08, 2019

Homes makes one think about how lucky we are to be Canadian. I cannot imagine sending my children off to school and having to worry about snipers or suicide bombers. This memoir is told by Bakr, reflecting on his life in Iraq and Syria. He shared the dichotomy of the violence and massacres with the hustle and bustle of a loving, close knit family full of siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles. He shares the perspective of a young boy coming to terms with leaving his country, his family, his friends Homes makes one think about how lucky we are to be Canadian. I cannot imagine sending my children off to school and having to worry about snipers or suicide bombers. This memoir is told by Bakr, reflecting on his life in Iraq and Syria. He shared the dichotomy of the violence and massacres with the hustle and bustle of a loving, close knit family full of siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles. He shares the perspective of a young boy coming to terms with leaving his country, his family, his friends and being thrown into a Canadian winter, attending school and having to learn to speak English.

Bakr and this memoir are remarkable examples of resilience, strength and bravery, leaving turmoil and coming to Canada for a better life. I am in awe of the strength of his parents!

This will be a great book to discuss at Canada Reads!! ...more
5

Jan 12, 2019

All my reviews can be found on ivereadthis.com

Those of us who are lucky enough to have the luxury of living in peaceful countries may be asking themselves what we can do to help the refugee crisis; I would argue our first job is to listen to their stories in an attempt to understand what they are fleeing from and why. With the number of refugees increasing, we now have access to even more first person accounts of what it’s like to have to flee your own home. Last year I reviewed a work of All my reviews can be found on ivereadthis.com

Those of us who are lucky enough to have the luxury of living in peaceful countries may be asking themselves what we can do to help the refugee crisis; I would argue our first job is to listen to their stories in an attempt to understand what they are fleeing from and why. With the number of refugees increasing, we now have access to even more first person accounts of what it’s like to have to flee your own home. Last year I reviewed a work of fiction that looked at the trials of coming to Canada, and this year I’ve gotten a few more books under my belt that deal with this same issue.

Homes: A Refugee Story was sent to me last year, but I’ve finally gotten around to reading it because it is longlisted for Canada Reads this year. I’m so glad I did, in fact I wished I had read it earlier because I would have recommended it to so many people by now! It’s written by an ESL teacher in Edmonton, based on the stories from her student Abu Bakr Al Rabeeah, a young man who fled Syria with his family once their refugee application was approved. Together, they describe Bakr’s once-typical life, playing soccer in the streets with his friends, working at his family’s bakery after school and playing video games on the weekends. Slowly, life changes for him as tensions rise in Homs, and instead of a rare occurrence, gunfire and car bombings become an everyday event.

What I love about this book is the voice; it breaks down the barriers of us vs. them, which is such a prevalent theme when it comes to stories of refugees. Instead, Bakr’s childhood (before the violence) is one that seems familiar to me, and will ring true for many Western readers. It’s a gradual change that happens around him, turning his familiar streets into a war-zone, but this change happens in such indiscernible ways that we are just as shocked as he is, and what’s worse is how obvious it is that the simple emotion of hate was the beginning of that society’s destruction. At a time when people seem more divided than ever over politics, it’s a clear warning sign that if we allow hate to enter our everyday vocabulary and thoughts, we are no better than the corrupt officials we blame for starting these civil wars.

It’s obvious why this book has affected so many people-it paints a vivid picture explaining why we may fear refugees when they come to our country, but this fear is so clearly unfounded. Bakr admits that when he came to Edmonton, those first few months he was angry and frustrated. So many people would condemn these feelings, claiming he should just be grateful for escaping the danger of Syria-which he most certainly is. He admits to being angry with himself more than anything, because he was so grateful for being in Canada, and yet, he struggled with learning a new language and culture, all while feeling guilty that he had left behind other family members still caught in the grips of war. And yet, as Canadians, we demand these refugees be forever happy and grateful just to be in a place that we so often complain about ourselves. The double standards we construct for these victims is astonishing, and yet it happens each and every day every time someone criticizes their behaviour.

So please, before your point the finger at a refugee not acting the way you expect them to, learn about their story first: Homes is a wonderful place to start. ...more
5

Apr 08, 2019

This book is hard to read. It is such a sad story. You read it and know that it is real, and it breaks your heart to know that people live like this and feel this insecurity and fear on a daily basis, but at the same time it is just so hard to really imagine it. This is so far from my own reality that it is very hard to even understand it. I cannot believe how young the author of this book is and how grown up he seems. I love the beauty in which he talks about his country and his family. This is This book is hard to read. It is such a sad story. You read it and know that it is real, and it breaks your heart to know that people live like this and feel this insecurity and fear on a daily basis, but at the same time it is just so hard to really imagine it. This is so far from my own reality that it is very hard to even understand it. I cannot believe how young the author of this book is and how grown up he seems. I love the beauty in which he talks about his country and his family. This is just a really great book. It really helps paint a picture of what families are living through in Syria and what the experience of getting to Canada was like. One thing I do wish is that it talked more about what life was like for the family after they moved to Canada and how it was to adapt and start all over. I can imagine that struggle could be a book of it's own. ...more
4

Apr 08, 2019

Sobering viewpoint

I would never have picked this book on my own . . .it is out of every aspect of my experience. I'm grateful the author and his teachers took the time to completely tell this story.

Kudos to all who helped get this family to their final destination. And God bless Canada!
5

Apr 02, 2019

Homes is the story of a boy, Abu Bakr, and his family living in Homs, Syria and their efforts to leave the violence of the Assad regime. It's beautifully written by his teacher.

This is a wonderful book... it's another library ebook that I enjoyed so much that I purchased it. I wish Goodreads offered more than 5 stars because this book deserves it.

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Note: Homes is the "Big Library Read" for 4/1-4/15/2019 ( https://biglibraryread.com/ ). The Big Library Read makes unlimited copies Homes is the story of a boy, Abu Bakr, and his family living in Homs, Syria and their efforts to leave the violence of the Assad regime. It's beautifully written by his teacher.

This is a wonderful book... it's another library ebook that I enjoyed so much that I purchased it. I wish Goodreads offered more than 5 stars because this book deserves it.

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Note: Homes is the "Big Library Read" for 4/1-4/15/2019 ( https://biglibraryread.com/ ). The Big Library Read makes unlimited copies of the selected ebook available to borrow from participating libraries, so there's no wait.

An interesting Overdrive blog post about this title (includes link to an interview with the authors): https://company.overdrive.com/2019/04... ...more
4

Feb 04, 2019

This is one of the better books I have read on the refugee experience.
5

Feb 03, 2019

Wow. Just wow. Beautifully written and an amazing story. If this book doesn’t inspire and open your eyes idk what would.
4

Apr 15, 2019

I think this book should be mandatory reading for Grade 7/8. A lovely story about such an important topic. I think this book should be mandatory reading for Grade 7/8. A lovely story about such an important topic. ???????? ...more
5

Dec 31, 2018

Wow, this is a powerful book! Everyone who has been fortunate enough to live their entire lives in a place of peace would do well to read Abu Bakr's story. I found it did a very good job of immersing the reader in the wide variety of emotions a young person would feel going through two civil wars and then suddenly being dropped into a Western city. Fear, safety, home and belonging can wear different faces in different places, and it is not an easy thing to change "home" even when you are in a Wow, this is a powerful book! Everyone who has been fortunate enough to live their entire lives in a place of peace would do well to read Abu Bakr's story. I found it did a very good job of immersing the reader in the wide variety of emotions a young person would feel going through two civil wars and then suddenly being dropped into a Western city. Fear, safety, home and belonging can wear different faces in different places, and it is not an easy thing to change "home" even when you are in a safer place. I would recommend this book for any teen or adult. ...more
5

Apr 08, 2019

This left me with many emotions. Gratitude for being born when and where I was. A deep sadness at the horrors we inflict upon one another. Disbelief that right now there are people out there just hoping for for one more day of safety for their family.

Telling this from the view of a young boy made it even more moving for me, a child should never have to live under those circumstances.

I can't stop thinking of the quote attributed to Plato. "Be kind, for every one you meet is fighting a hard This left me with many emotions. Gratitude for being born when and where I was. A deep sadness at the horrors we inflict upon one another. Disbelief that right now there are people out there just hoping for for one more day of safety for their family.

Telling this from the view of a young boy made it even more moving for me, a child should never have to live under those circumstances.

I can't stop thinking of the quote attributed to Plato. "Be kind, for every one you meet is fighting a hard battle." A good reminder to be patient with people who may not understand things right away. No one wants to leave their home and become a refugee. It must be terrifying.

Highly recommended - the world would be a better place if we all read this book ...more
4

Mar 20, 2019

In December 2014, Bakr was a 14yr old boy who loved soccer, video games and his family. He just happened to live in Syria. After persistent appeals by his father to the UN, Bakr and his siblings and parents were finally leaving their war-torn homeland for Canada. Bakr details car bombings, mortar attacks on his street, seeing his first dead body and seeing the dead body of someone he knew. Everyday life of school, friends and family celebrations continue despite the escalating chaos all around In December 2014, Bakr was a 14yr old boy who loved soccer, video games and his family. He just happened to live in Syria. After persistent appeals by his father to the UN, Bakr and his siblings and parents were finally leaving their war-torn homeland for Canada. Bakr details car bombings, mortar attacks on his street, seeing his first dead body and seeing the dead body of someone he knew. Everyday life of school, friends and family celebrations continue despite the escalating chaos all around them. January 2019, Bakr's memoir is a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award and CBC's Canada Reads. It is an amazing feat of resilience and testament to the power of telling our truth. ...more
5

Jun 13, 2019

My parents raised me to be a kind and compassionate person. I also had the fortune to spend a good chunk of my childhood in northern Virginia, where there is quite a bit of diversity. My father’s next door neighbors are from Iran, and when I was 19, I dated a guy who had been born in Iran but had been sent with his mother to Canada to escape the religious revolution in 1979. I’ve always been taught to look at a person’s heart, not the color of his skin, and also that true Islam is a religion of My parents raised me to be a kind and compassionate person. I also had the fortune to spend a good chunk of my childhood in northern Virginia, where there is quite a bit of diversity. My father’s next door neighbors are from Iran, and when I was 19, I dated a guy who had been born in Iran but had been sent with his mother to Canada to escape the religious revolution in 1979. I’ve always been taught to look at a person’s heart, not the color of his skin, and also that true Islam is a religion of love and peace. It’s the extremists that have taken this religion and twisted into one of hate and violence.

Abu Bakr al Rabeeah was born in Iraq, but when life became untenable for his Sunni family in a Shi’a area, his parents made the decision to emigrate to Syria. Unfortunately, not long after their move to Syria, the country began to descend into civil war. Bakr spent years of his childhood seeing the destruction first-hand, from bombed buildings to death on the streets. He speaks of the ability to differentiate the odor of fresh blood spilled in the streets from the stench of a long-dead corpse buried in rubble. He finds a man’s jawbone on his father’s property and gives it a proper burial. Keep in mind he is a child; these are things no child should have to endure.

Fortunately his father’s application to move to the West is granted, and the family goes to Canada. Now they are safe from the violence and the death and the destruction, but they’re in a new country, vastly different from what they had known in either Iraq or Syria, and none of them know English. It’s hard for them to decide which is more difficult — living with family and familiar traditions in a war-torn country, or being physically safe but alone and lost in a new world.

This is a very important book to read in today’s culture of Islamaphobia and xenophobia. We have so much to offer in the West and should do more to accept the people fleeing violence and civil war. ...more
4

Feb 18, 2019

In this work of creative non-fiction, I was given insight into the story of an innocent. A child of ten being raised up with love and connection, with resilience and faith, and with war. The war in Syria. How this child, and his family, made it out and into Canada. This is Abu Bakr's story. A new Canadian, and so his story has become part of Canada's.
2019 Canada Reads selection- first one I tackled, mostly because of the length. It is well worth reading, and although there is horror, the In this work of creative non-fiction, I was given insight into the story of an innocent. A child of ten being raised up with love and connection, with resilience and faith, and with war. The war in Syria. How this child, and his family, made it out and into Canada. This is Abu Bakr's story. A new Canadian, and so his story has become part of Canada's.
2019 Canada Reads selection- first one I tackled, mostly because of the length. It is well worth reading, and although there is horror, the overarching theme is about family, connection, and how those things helped keep his family together and alive. ...more
5

Mar 25, 2019

Honestly I don’t really know what to say about this book. After reading it I’m just at a loss of words. I kept forgetting throughout how young Abu Bakr really was and is and I can’t even begin to grasp all the pain and suffering at such a young age. It’s a truly moving yet terrifying true story that brought me to tears more then once and makes you so so grateful for the privilege and circumstances you have been born into.

4

Apr 07, 2019

I am Happy to have been born and raised in a country that gave me freedom!
Freedom of religion, to dress, sexual orientation etc..... to have an individual mind.
3

Mar 24, 2019

Abu Bakr al Rabeeah’s story is captivating, providing a unique window into the ways in which his family struggled to maintain a normal life in Syria, despite the escalating violence and political turmoil during the Syrian civil war.

Homes is a short read, the writing perhaps not as polished and immersive as it could be, but I had to keep reminding myself that it was written by a young teenager (with assistance from his English teacher), in a language foreign to him, using Google Translate and a Abu Bakr al Rabeeah’s story is captivating, providing a unique window into the ways in which his family struggled to maintain a normal life in Syria, despite the escalating violence and political turmoil during the Syrian civil war.

Homes is a short read, the writing perhaps not as polished and immersive as it could be, but I had to keep reminding myself that it was written by a young teenager (with assistance from his English teacher), in a language foreign to him, using Google Translate and a lot of time and patience.

While there are other Canada Reads shortlist titles that are more eloquent (Chariandy’s Brother) or entertaining (Wong’s The Woo-Woo), I think Homes has the more important story and message, one of love and inclusion, that deserves be told, especially in an age of Islamophobia, anti-immigration and protectionism sentiments.

Definitely worth a look :) ...more

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