The Beekeeper of Aleppo

The Beekeeper of Aleppo
Christy Lefteri
Published date
Bonnier Zaffre

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri is a very touching story about Syrian refugees. Nuri was a beekeeper. He loved his job, it was his passion, his whole life. He and his family and friends led a simple life, but they were very happy. But then the war came, and everything they knew was shattered to pieces.

The story is told from Nuri’s point of view. He starting his tale when he’s already in England, waiting for the decision if he can stay there for good. We learn his story from the series of retrospective memories mixed with his current struggle with accepting his new life in a strange country.

This is a very sad book. What happened in Syria is unspeakable. This once beautiful country, full of history and breath-taking monuments and landscapes was turned to ruin by people’s hatred. We, as people who was lucky enough to never experienced war, can only imagine the horrors that must have happened there. Nuri and Afra (even though they are fictional characters, they are good representation) experience it all. The loss of everything they loved and cherished. And then some.

But the nightmare of war-torn country was only the beginning of their struggle. They want to flee to England, where Nuri’s cousin Mustafa is waiting for them, but this is a long and hard journey. Other European countries are already flooded by refugees and some of them closed their borders to them. Everyone who hears where they want to go just laugh and shake their head with disbelieve. But there is one thing that keeps them going against the all odds - hope.

The author herself spent time working as a volunteer at a UNICEF supported refugee centre in Athens, where the idea of the book started. So she saw first-hand how those places looked like and she met people who suffered through this terrible war. And those camps were really horrible. I have no doubt, that what the author describes is not far for the truth. Because of never ending flow of refugees, the camps were degrading very quickly and very often people came there to never leave.

It’s important to read about those events, because it’s what really happening in our world. And sometimes, when we sit comfortably in our homes and watch news about refugees flooding whole Europe we are annoyed that they keep coming and make troubles. But we have to wait for a moment and think, really think about those poor people whose life were completely destroyed and who lost everything. And maybe feel a little empathy towards them. I don’t know how exactly the process of applying for asylum in UK looks like, but I can imagine there are some very hard questions for traumatized people.

But even though the book is full of sorrow and loss, there is always a glimmer of hope too. It’s what keeps the people going and living, day by day. I really like how the author showed Nuri’s passion for beekeeping. Descriptions and memories of his time in apiaries back in Aleppo were my favourite parts of the book. And I really love the ending. It was perfect, there were finally signs that after all, everything will be alright.

I think this is a kind of book that everyone should read. It’s really moving and beautifully written. Before I read this book I didn’t know a thing about Aleppo, beside the fact that it was thoroughly destroyed by war. But thanks to this book and all descriptions I actually googled to see how the city looked before the conflict. And it was really wonderful, and we shouldn’t forget that.

Thank you NetGalley and Bonnier Zaffre for the ARC.