October 13, 2020
Growing up in East Aleppo, Yara’s childhood has long been shadowed by the coming revolution. But when the Arab Spring finally arrives at Yara’s doorstep, it is worse than even her Nana imagined: sudden, violent, and deadly. When rescuers dig Yara out from under the rubble that was once her family’s home, she emerges to a changed world. Her parents and Nana are gone, and her brother, Saad, can’t speak—struck silent by everything he’s seen. Now, with her friend Shireen and Shireen’s charismatic brother, Ali, Yara must try to find a way to safety. With danger around every corner, Yara is pushed to her limits as she discovers how far she’ll go for her loved ones—and for a chance for freedom.
Crafted through the focused lens of Jamal Saeed’s own experiences in Syria and brought to life with acclaimed author Sharon E. McKay, Yara’s Spring is a story of coming of age against all odds and the many kinds of love that bloom even in the face of war.
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McKay also wrote Thunder over Kandahar (2010) about life in Afghanistan, and it's great to see her team up with an #ownvoices writer, Jamal Saeed, to write an excellent tales with gripping details about Syria. It's so important that my students not only know the difficulties that people in war torn countries face, but that they also realize that many of these people have lives so similar to their own before they are thrown into confusion and devastation by war. The inclusion of Nana, who had previously lived through political difficulties in the early 1980s, was especially interesting, and Yara and Shireen's friendship added another interesting layer. I have been working on building a collection about how the Arab Spring affected children, and this was another great book on that topic.
There were a few details about the camps that made me worry that this would be for much older readers (boys call Yara a prostitute), but these were not too explicit, and the rest of the book had a lot of similarity to Senzai's Escape from Aleppo.
I would love to see these authors write a book about children in a refugee camp, or a continuation of this story from Saad's perspective as he deals with his selective mutism in his new home in Canada.
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