Elise Bellin, Librarian of the Islamic Resource Center, wrote this book review as part of an ongoing series that focuses on a range of books within the IRC collection as a service to the community.

Escape From Aleppo

by N.H. Senzai, © 2018 – ISBN: 9781481472173

As many of our readers are doubtlessly aware, Syria, a country with a rich history and vibrant culture, has unfortunately been trapped in a decade long civil war due in part to the Arab Spring, Arab Winter and Iraqi conflict among other things. The country has seen little in the way of peace and safety, forcing many to abandon their homes and become global refugees in a world that is increasingly intolerant towards those without a home to return to. However, it can be hard to understand just what these refugees went or are going through and harder still to explain what is going on to youth who may have questions about what they see in the news. Luckily for us, writers like N. H. Senzai are here to help out by writing the hard stories in ways young people can understand without overwhelming them.

Escape From Aleppo is the gripping story of a Syrian teen fleeing her war-torn homeland for the relative safety of Turkey only to be separated from the rest of her group when a bomb explodes. Heady stuff for a middle school book, and yet that is exactly what this is. Though there is death and danger all around the principal characters, there is also courage, kindness and love. Yes, there is a lot of “oppressive, out-of-control violence,” but not much gore. While there is discussion of torture and bombings, we see our main characters and a good deal of the supporting cast looking beyond their own lives and safety to help those around them.

This isn’t Senzai’s first rodeo with “hard hitting, emotionally wrenching” heavy material. Senzai is the critically acclaimed author who wrote such books as Shooting Kabul and Saving Kabul Corner.  These books dealt with topics such as a young Afghan immigrant dealing with fallout from 9/11.  Despite its heavy material, Escape From Aleppo is ideally written for children ages 8 and up.

Founded in 2010, the Islamic Resource Center (IRC) is the first Islamic public lending library in Wisconsin. The IRC aims to provide resources to educators, students, health professionals, interfaith groups, and any members of the Milwaukee community that want an accurate understanding of the Islamic faith, its practices, and its people.