One boy’s true story, both heartbreaking and hopeful, of living through the Syrian civil war and immigrating to Canada.
Homes: A Refugee Story, written by Winnie Yeung, chronicles the life of her former student, Abu Bakr al Rabeeah. 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. Based on her interviews with Abu Bakr al Rabeeah and his relatives, writer Winnie Yeung has crafted a heartbreaking, hopeful, and urgently necessary book that provides a window into understanding Syria.
This book is a work of creative nonfiction, and not a memoir.
The Syrian Civil War is a humanitarian catastrophe with global political consequences. In Homes, Winnie Yeung gives the crisis a tender, unforgettable human face, working with Abu Bakr al Rabeeah to detail his flight from the bombed-out streets of Homs to the snowy avenues of Edmonton. This extraordinary story is about the resilience of family in the face of profound terror; Yeung writes with a deceptively simple, meticulously observed eye and novelistic attention to plot and character. As Canadians grapple with the complexities of welcoming thousands of refugees, they would do well to read the powerfully affecting story of Homes.— 2018 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing Jury (André Picard, Angela Sterritt, and Chris Turner)
From a safe distance, the violence of the Syrian civil war is too vast and grotesque to grasp. How does one comprehend the deaths of 500,000 people, after all? Homes grants readers an intimate view of the war through the eyes of a ten-year-old boy as he struggles to play, pray, and survive as his world collapses around him. Homes stands as one of those rare books that manages to find humanity in the inhumane and, in the end, says more about love than war.”— Marcello di Cintio, winner of the Shaughnessy Cohen Award for Political Writing for Walls: Travels Along the Barricades
This charming and warm-hearted book is a refugee story like no other. A captivating read.”— Deborah Campbell, winner of the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Award for Non-Fiction for A Disappearance in Damascus
Abu Bakr al Rabeeah is brave, his family are brave, and Homes is a compelling, honest chronicle of one harrowing journey across collapsing nation-states. Winnie Yeung does a fine job bringing out the humanity in this — and by extension, every other — refugee tale.”— Charles Foran, author of Mordecai: The Life and Times s