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The Boy on the Beach: My Family's Escape from Syria and Our Hope for a New Home

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An intimate and poignant memoir about the family of Alan Kurdi—the young Syrian boy who became the global emblem for the desperate plight of millions of Syrian refugees—and of the many extraordinary journeys the Kurdis have taken, spanning countries and continents. Alan Kurdi’s body washed up on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea on September 2, 2015, and overnight, the pol An intimate and poignant memoir about the family of Alan Kurdi—the young Syrian boy who became the global emblem for the desperate plight of millions of Syrian refugees—and of the many extraordinary journeys the Kurdis have taken, spanning countries and continents. Alan Kurdi’s body washed up on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea on September 2, 2015, and overnight, the political became personal, as the world awoke to the reality of the Syrian refugee crisis. Tima Kurdi first saw the shocking photo of her nephew in her home in Vancouver, Canada. But Tima did not need a photo to understand the truth—she and her family had already been living it. In The Boy on the Beach, Tima recounts her idyllic childhood in Syria, where she grew up with her brother Abdullah and other siblings in a tight‑knit family. A strong‑willed, independent woman, Tima studied to be a hairdresser and had dreams of seeing the world. At twenty‑two, she emigrated to Canada, but much of her family remained in Damascus. Life as a single mother and immigrant in a new country wasn’t always easy, and Tima recounts with heart‑wrenching honesty the anguish of being torn between a new home and the world she’d left behind. As Tima struggled to adapt to life in a new land, war overtook her homeland. Caught in the crosshairs of civil war, her family risked everything and fled their homes. Tima worked tirelessly to help them find safety, but their journey was far from easy. Although thwarted by politics, hounded by violence, and separated by vast distances, the Kurdis encountered setbacks at every turn, they never gave up hope. And when tragedy struck, Tima suddenly found herself thrust onto the world stage as an advocate for refugees everywhere, a role for which she had never prepared but that allowed her to give voice to those who didn’t have an opportunity to speak for themselves. From the jasmine‑scented neighbourhoods of Damascus before the war to the streets of Aleppo during it, to the refugee camps of Europe and the leafy suburbs of Vancouver, The Boy on the Beach is one family’s story of love, loss, and the persistent search for safe harbour in a devastating time of war.


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An intimate and poignant memoir about the family of Alan Kurdi—the young Syrian boy who became the global emblem for the desperate plight of millions of Syrian refugees—and of the many extraordinary journeys the Kurdis have taken, spanning countries and continents. Alan Kurdi’s body washed up on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea on September 2, 2015, and overnight, the pol An intimate and poignant memoir about the family of Alan Kurdi—the young Syrian boy who became the global emblem for the desperate plight of millions of Syrian refugees—and of the many extraordinary journeys the Kurdis have taken, spanning countries and continents. Alan Kurdi’s body washed up on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea on September 2, 2015, and overnight, the political became personal, as the world awoke to the reality of the Syrian refugee crisis. Tima Kurdi first saw the shocking photo of her nephew in her home in Vancouver, Canada. But Tima did not need a photo to understand the truth—she and her family had already been living it. In The Boy on the Beach, Tima recounts her idyllic childhood in Syria, where she grew up with her brother Abdullah and other siblings in a tight‑knit family. A strong‑willed, independent woman, Tima studied to be a hairdresser and had dreams of seeing the world. At twenty‑two, she emigrated to Canada, but much of her family remained in Damascus. Life as a single mother and immigrant in a new country wasn’t always easy, and Tima recounts with heart‑wrenching honesty the anguish of being torn between a new home and the world she’d left behind. As Tima struggled to adapt to life in a new land, war overtook her homeland. Caught in the crosshairs of civil war, her family risked everything and fled their homes. Tima worked tirelessly to help them find safety, but their journey was far from easy. Although thwarted by politics, hounded by violence, and separated by vast distances, the Kurdis encountered setbacks at every turn, they never gave up hope. And when tragedy struck, Tima suddenly found herself thrust onto the world stage as an advocate for refugees everywhere, a role for which she had never prepared but that allowed her to give voice to those who didn’t have an opportunity to speak for themselves. From the jasmine‑scented neighbourhoods of Damascus before the war to the streets of Aleppo during it, to the refugee camps of Europe and the leafy suburbs of Vancouver, The Boy on the Beach is one family’s story of love, loss, and the persistent search for safe harbour in a devastating time of war.

30 review for The Boy on the Beach: My Family's Escape from Syria and Our Hope for a New Home

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    "My nephew Alan Kurdi was a young refugee. He washed up dead on a Turkish beach in 2015. His photo was seen by millions. This is the story of my beautiful family, before and after. With this story, I will plant in your heart the hope for a better world." - Tima Kurdi "...There is no strength without God." Thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada and NetGalley for providing me with a digital ARC of THE BOY ON THE BEACH: MY FAMILY'S ESCAPE FROM SYRIA AND OUR HOPE FOR A NEW HOME written by Tima Kurdi, thus "My nephew Alan Kurdi was a young refugee. He washed up dead on a Turkish beach in 2015. His photo was seen by millions. This is the story of my beautiful family, before and after. With this story, I will plant in your heart the hope for a better world." - Tima Kurdi "...There is no strength without God." Thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada and NetGalley for providing me with a digital ARC of THE BOY ON THE BEACH: MY FAMILY'S ESCAPE FROM SYRIA AND OUR HOPE FOR A NEW HOME written by Tima Kurdi, thus making it possible for me to read and write an unbiased review of the book. Tima Kurdi is the aunt of Alan Kurdi, the Syrian refugee toddler who washed up dead on the beach in Turkey in 2015, and was in that photo that went viral around the world. This is the story of Tima Kurdi's close-knit Syrian family living in a home with love and laughter before the war and being forced to literally run for their lives and flee their homeland after the war started. It explains what happened that tragic night and the events that led up to it. These refugees wanted what most of us want, healthy, peaceful, safe lives for their loved ones. Abdullah, father of little Alan Kurdi, said to the author, "Okay, sister. What I have learned is that it doesn't matter if you have no money and you live in a shed eating lentils. All that matters is that your family is there, that you have love. Love gives us strength and power to forget the suffering and pain. Tell the people. Tell them nothing else matters. We don't thank God enough for all the things we have." I highly recommend that you read this book. 5 stars ⭐️️⭐️️⭐️️⭐️️⭐️️ Posted Feb. 20,2019 on NetGalley & Goodreads Posted Feb. 21, 2019 on iBooks

  2. 4 out of 5

    Briar's Reviews

    The Boy on the Beach is a beautiful yet haunting tale of a heartbreaking story that swept the nation. Back in 2015 there was a very viral picture of a young, Syrian refugee boy washed up on the shore of the Mediterranean. It was heartbreaking, knowing that these people were seeking help and they didn't get it. Alan Kurdi was the young boy, and Tima Kurdi (his aunt) shares the powerful story of this tragedy in this beautifully written novel. This book is one for the ages: it showcases real human em The Boy on the Beach is a beautiful yet haunting tale of a heartbreaking story that swept the nation. Back in 2015 there was a very viral picture of a young, Syrian refugee boy washed up on the shore of the Mediterranean. It was heartbreaking, knowing that these people were seeking help and they didn't get it. Alan Kurdi was the young boy, and Tima Kurdi (his aunt) shares the powerful story of this tragedy in this beautifully written novel. This book is one for the ages: it showcases real human emotion. Syrian refugees are normal people (which some people on the internet do not seem to get) and were just living their lives and doing their best. Families, jobs, education, marriages, pregnancies, miscarriages, etc. They all had experiences and were doing their best. Then the Syrian War happened and ruined everything. The war went on for ages and people tried to escape, many of them taking the refugee route. These people bargained with smugglers and tried to escape to another nation, but many did not make it. This story HURT. I can't even imagine what it would be like to be on the other side of that picture. I remember seeing it and having my heart ache, but not to the level that Tima and her family would have felt. To lose one's children and wife, or nephew and sister-in-law, to know that you tried to get them freedom and one small decision is what hurt them. It's heart breaking. If there's a positive about this book, hopefully it'll open some hearts up and someone will be able to help someone else. Not only is this book written beautifully, but it reeks of empathy. My heart felt like it was going to explode reading it. I felt so attached and I felt so strongly for Tima. That writing ability, it's one for the ages. My only negative for the book is that is was sad, and that's not even a negative - it's reality. I almost cried reading this book because it's just so darn awful yet amazing. It's a horrible story, one that definitely was not deserved by all of those involved. The inhumane crimes... it's despicable. But Tima's ability to write and make me feel for her and want to do everything in my power to help, that's just amazing. There's also so much love and adoration in this book as well. The love of her family, the desire to do better - it's worthwhile. You'll be grateful for the position you're in and you'll feel things you've never felt before once you pick up this book. I swear. Hug your family a little closer tonight and realize things can change in an instant. This book also gave me a reminder that you don't know what's going on in other people's lives, so respect, respect, respect. And give a little empathy once and a while. Maybe don't go judging based off Twitter and Fox News. I'd 100%, highly recommend this book. It'll make you cry and feel things you never did. It's beautiful, astonishing and moving. I can't recommend it enough - non-fiction lovers, history lovers, explorers and people who just want to feel something. Seriously, pick up this book. Five out of five stars. I would give it six if possible. I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads. My copy was also an arc, so it may have changed upon publication.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Carla

    We probably all remember the photo of little Alan Kurdi, the Syrian refugee laying face down, dead, on the beach. Fleeing from Syria, this is a memoir of the tragic life of the whole family, and how they came to flee Syria. There are some beautiful, wonderful memories of Syria before the war that are shared with such beautiful writing. The tragedy of their journey is spoken of in this poignant book. Bless all that fled to find a better life. My heart broke reading this book. There is no way you We probably all remember the photo of little Alan Kurdi, the Syrian refugee laying face down, dead, on the beach. Fleeing from Syria, this is a memoir of the tragic life of the whole family, and how they came to flee Syria. There are some beautiful, wonderful memories of Syria before the war that are shared with such beautiful writing. The tragedy of their journey is spoken of in this poignant book. Bless all that fled to find a better life. My heart broke reading this book. There is no way you could not have empathy from reading of their heart wrenching journey. The courage and bravery is beyond belief.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Orla Hegarty

    In 2015, when the horrific photo of Alan Kurdi went viral, I purposely did not look at it after the first glimpse. I was appalled that a photo like this could be taken. I felt that it captured the depravity of humanity and I wept, with the world, for this little boy and his family. This book helps contextualize the shock I felt back in 2015 and I feel hope that Ms. Kurdi and her family are trying to stop these horrors. İnşallah.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Anne Logan

    I’ve never had the experience of doubting whether I could finish a book. I love reading, and even when I don’t really like a book I’ll usually finish it; my DNF rate is extremely low. Reading The Boy on the Beach by Tima Kurdi is the first time I found myself unsure as to whether I could continue on-not because the book was bad, quite the opposite actually, I wasn’t sure if I could emotionally handle reading anymore of it, it was so powerful and painful to read. You may not have heard Tima’s name I’ve never had the experience of doubting whether I could finish a book. I love reading, and even when I don’t really like a book I’ll usually finish it; my DNF rate is extremely low. Reading The Boy on the Beach by Tima Kurdi is the first time I found myself unsure as to whether I could continue on-not because the book was bad, quite the opposite actually, I wasn’t sure if I could emotionally handle reading anymore of it, it was so powerful and painful to read. You may not have heard Tima’s name before, but you most certainly know her family’s story. One of her nephews was Alan Kurdi, the little boy whose body washed up on a beach after he drowned along with his mother and brother. His photo was everywhere, shocking people into remorse and guilt, a stark reminder of the refugee crisis going on in Syria and surrounding areas. Having moved to Canada years ago, Tima was in the process of trying to privately sponsor some of her family members to move here in order to save them from the war they were escaping. Many of her brothers and their families were living in bombed out homes, some even homeless, struggling to feed themselves and their children. After years of sending them money, Tima felt as though she had to do more which is why she was attempting to navigate the complicated process of bringing them here to safety, but the applications were denied, so she sent her one brother money to pay smugglers to get them across the Aegean sea in boat, which is when his wife and two sons drowned. Once the photo of Alan’s lifeless body washed up on the beach went viral, Tima did numerous media appearances all around the world to draw attention to the plight of refugees, finally deciding to record her family’s story in this book. She continues her activism in her family’s name with The Kurdi Foundation, dedicated to helping refugee children. The book itself begins with the story of Tima’s youth, which is idyllic in many ways. After moving to Canada, she suffers from homesickness but adapts to her new life well, building a family and becoming a hairdresser, even opening up her own salon. She tells the story of her brother and his family alongside her reactions from Canada and her overwhelming guilt and depression. Her writing captures her emotional heartache, caught between wanting to enjoy life in Canada with her own family and helping her struggling siblings in Syria. One phrase I found particularly heartbreaking: “I was consumed by the desire to get them to safety…I found shopping depressing. The abundance of food on those shelves gave me panic attacks and filled me with a kind of bitterness that I’d never felt before (p. 115 of ARC). “ That guilt is something that stuck with me for awhile, it reminds me to be grateful for the chance to go to a grocery store and buy food for my family. Although we typically see this errand as a chore, we should realize how special this would be for tens of millions of people around the world who never get this privilege. Abdullah Kurdi with his now deceased sons Alan and Ghalib There is hope in the actions of Abdullah, Tima’s brother and Alan’s father. As the only survivor of his family’s tragic drowning, he dedicates his life to helping refugee children, visiting camps regularly and bringing them supplies they so desperately need. In addition to that, Tima is successful in bringing one brother and his family to Canada, so together they continue to work on bringing awareness to the plight of refugees around the world. So why should you read this book if you know it’s going to be painful? If you know you’re going to cry at some point while reading it? Because educating yourself on the Syrian crisis and its ramifications is the first step towards peace-the more you can empathize and help others to understand what’s going on, the more accepting the rest of the world will be towards the ongoing refugee crisis, which brings us closer and closer to a peaceful world. Oh, and this book was longlisted for Canada Reads 2019, so let’s end on that light note. To read all my reviews, please visit my blog https://ivereadthis.com/

  6. 4 out of 5

    Penny (Literary Hoarders)

    This is not out until April, and I hope everyone picks it up to read. I'm honoured to have received an advanced reading copy from Simon & Schuster Canada. When it arrived in the mail, and I read what Tima Kurdi's story was, I immediately pushed aside all other reading and started it. "No one can understand our pain unless they walk in our shoes." - page 188 of the ARC, said by Abdullah Kurdi, father of two-year-old Alan, the boy on the beach. Tima Kurdi is Abdullah Kurdi's sister - she lives i This is not out until April, and I hope everyone picks it up to read. I'm honoured to have received an advanced reading copy from Simon & Schuster Canada. When it arrived in the mail, and I read what Tima Kurdi's story was, I immediately pushed aside all other reading and started it. "No one can understand our pain unless they walk in our shoes." - page 188 of the ARC, said by Abdullah Kurdi, father of two-year-old Alan, the boy on the beach. Tima Kurdi is Abdullah Kurdi's sister - she lives in Canada, and moved here many years before the war began in Syria. The picture of Alan Kurdi became the wake up call about the Syrian refugee crisis. Abdullah lost his wife and two sons on that tiny boat to Greece to escape the war in Syria and the lesser life they were living in a refugee camp in Turkey. I do hope you read this when it comes out in April and you take some time to walk in their shoes.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    If anyone has the authority to write on this subject, it is Tima Kurdi… maybe aside from the father of Ghalib and Alan Kurdi, of course. But the nature of a relative writing this book is heart-wrenching in so many places. The book details multiple histories, fallouts, impacts, etc. all in a voice void of pretentiousness or unnecessary flourish. It’s a sister to Carol Off’s All We Leave Behind: A Reporter's Journey Into the Lives of Others, albeit very different in perspective (though so similar If anyone has the authority to write on this subject, it is Tima Kurdi… maybe aside from the father of Ghalib and Alan Kurdi, of course. But the nature of a relative writing this book is heart-wrenching in so many places. The book details multiple histories, fallouts, impacts, etc. all in a voice void of pretentiousness or unnecessary flourish. It’s a sister to Carol Off’s All We Leave Behind: A Reporter's Journey Into the Lives of Others, albeit very different in perspective (though so similar in another way). I hope not only Canadians, but Americans and Europeans read this book too as we enter more uncertainty, war, and loss of hope in the 21st century. Worth a read to hear a bit more humanity through the noise of the media surrounding this war.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    I found this book clarifying about one family's struggle during recent upheavals and war in Syria. Classic in its representation of a society's struggles. Shared against the backdrop of their lives before war reached them, it allowed me to understand the terrible contrast and reasons individuals and families become desperate to escape their homeland, and refugee camps. Indeed, why the treacherous dingy rides to freedom are sought and endured, successful or not, with hope. I found this book clarifying about one family's struggle during recent upheavals and war in Syria. Classic in its representation of a society's struggles. Shared against the backdrop of their lives before war reached them, it allowed me to understand the terrible contrast and reasons individuals and families become desperate to escape their homeland, and refugee camps. Indeed, why the treacherous dingy rides to freedom are sought and endured, successful or not, with hope.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Maggi

    Quite a revelation about the poor little boy found dead on a beach in Turkey. If this book by Tima Kurdi, a Canadian citizen, about her Syrian family's travails as refugees does not absolutely break your heart, you don't have one. Much misinformation that abounded in the days after that story broke is cleared up here. The poor little boy, whose name was Alan Kurdi, was a much loved and cared for child. His father and mother suffered enormous anguish about taking him and his brother to Greece (hi Quite a revelation about the poor little boy found dead on a beach in Turkey. If this book by Tima Kurdi, a Canadian citizen, about her Syrian family's travails as refugees does not absolutely break your heart, you don't have one. Much misinformation that abounded in the days after that story broke is cleared up here. The poor little boy, whose name was Alan Kurdi, was a much loved and cared for child. His father and mother suffered enormous anguish about taking him and his brother to Greece (his mother and brother drowned as well) and put it off night after night for over a month, after seeing too many boats offered by smugglers that didn't look seaworthy or observing waves that were too high. Despite reports to the contrary, life jackets were worn, though they apparently didn't fit the children correctly. (Alan's father actually made a point to buy the best life jackets he could find.) The family agonized about this and many, many other issues of safety. The author, who paid for her brother's family's smugglers, suffers enormous guilt and pain. Other members of this close extended family are spread about in various countries, locked in bureaucratic nightmares trying to find a way to be together and make new lives, and as of the writing of the book, the little boy's grandfather is still stuck in Syria. All of them long for the life they had in their beloved homeland. The documentation required of refugees from a dysfunctional government engaged in a civil war is impossible to procure, and many, many refugees are stuck in limbo, unable to work or send their children to school. Even Canada, seen by us in the U.S as a welcoming haven, created terrible roadblocks to refugee immigration until Justin Trudeau was elected. Millions of Syrian refugees had no place to go, and millions more are still stuck. Yet here in the U.S. we allowed precious few refugees, and our president instead stoked fears that the refugees themselves, who are victims of fanatic jihadists, were terrorists as well, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. Facebook memes equated desperate refugees, walking for miles to cross borders into countries where they were completely unwanted, to snakes who might be harboring a viper in their midst. Congresswoman Michele Bachman took to the airwaves saying that Alan's father had risked his family's life for dental care, when nothing could be further from the truth. In actuality, Alan's father had suffered having all his teeth forcibly removed by ISIS. His sister in Canada had offered to pay for dental care, which he forcefully and angrily refused, much preferring to help his family. Tima Kurdi, a hairdresser, spent thousands of dollars and most of her time trying desperately to help many different members of her family to escape. I could not help but think of the Holocaust while reading. Kurd's metaphorical message is that Syria and other war-torn countries are on fire, and much of the world stands by, watching their innocent inhabitants burn.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Walsh

    3.5 stars. Thank you NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for a copy of this important book which focuses on the hardships and heartbreak of refugees and their families. Book received in exchange for a fair review. Most people remember the shock of seeing the photograph of little Alan Kurdi lying dead on the beach. Tina Kurdi, his aunt and author of this book had been attempting to help her brother, Abdullah, father of little Alan, his wife and two sons to safety from war torn Syria. She was also st 3.5 stars. Thank you NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for a copy of this important book which focuses on the hardships and heartbreak of refugees and their families. Book received in exchange for a fair review. Most people remember the shock of seeing the photograph of little Alan Kurdi lying dead on the beach. Tina Kurdi, his aunt and author of this book had been attempting to help her brother, Abdullah, father of little Alan, his wife and two sons to safety from war torn Syria. She was also struggling to bring her older brother, Mohammed and family to Canada. Although she had raised money to bring some of her relatives to Canada and had sponsors, there was so much red tape in the way and applications seemed to go nowhere, shuffled from one government department to the next. Everything was at a standstill. At the time the photograph was published, Alan became a symbol of the horror in Syria, and the plight of refugees. I am proud of the present Canadian government which eased up on the roadblocks and brought in many refugees to our country. The same goes for many European countries. Sadly some countries have hardened their hearts, imposing more restrictions. Her family had been a large extended one living a comfortable life in and around Damascus, which she calls Jasmine City. The family was a close one with lots of love and good times. We get the harrowing story of Abdullah, his wife and two little boys attempting to reach Greece from Turkey in a small, unsafe boat and the drowning of his wife and children. They were attempting to get to a safe place in Europe after Abdullah had been tortured and his family were living in poverty. She details the aftermath, where Abdullah suffered PTSD and serious health problems. He subsequently moved to the Kurdish section of Iraq and is helping refugee children there. Tima, from her home in Canada has become a spokesperson for the plight of refugees and for cessation of hostilities in Syria. She has made many trips abroad, and has managed to relocate older brother, Mohammed and family to Canada. She details the plight of other family members, a few still in Syria, but most scattered over Europe, some still in refugee camps. I would like to see photographs in order to put faces on these relatives. Nothing exploitive, and photos of happier times in Damascus, as well as photos of a couple of refugee camps. I felt this would make these many relatives and their stories a more powerful part of the story. I find much to admire in this dedicated woman who persisted in her mission through much worry and stress.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jill Robbertze

    Firstly, Thank you Tima for writing this book and I'm so sorry for your loss. This is an eye-opening account of the refugee crisis from the first hand experiences of these family members: What they endured in wore-torn Syria and their ongoing struggle to find a safe place to peacefully live their lives. Of course there are always 2 sides of the "coin" both of which has merit, the massive influx of refugees putting a lot of pressure on various countries. However I have always believed, as Tima al Firstly, Thank you Tima for writing this book and I'm so sorry for your loss. This is an eye-opening account of the refugee crisis from the first hand experiences of these family members: What they endured in wore-torn Syria and their ongoing struggle to find a safe place to peacefully live their lives. Of course there are always 2 sides of the "coin" both of which has merit, the massive influx of refugees putting a lot of pressure on various countries. However I have always believed, as Tima also says "We are more similiar than we are different...." I do think that the photo of "The Boy on the Beach"(Alan) and this book has, and continues to change the public's perception.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Vivian Perez

    A book hasn’t made me cry in a long time. And this one, was truly heartbreaking. It moved me. It compelled me to learn more. And most importantly, it is indeed — one of the most important books I will ever read this year. For those who don’t know much about the Syrian war and life for those refugees, they should really read this book to truly understand what their lives are like. You will never know what it’s like to walk in their shoes but this memoir will give you a small taste of it; but you’ A book hasn’t made me cry in a long time. And this one, was truly heartbreaking. It moved me. It compelled me to learn more. And most importantly, it is indeed — one of the most important books I will ever read this year. For those who don’t know much about the Syrian war and life for those refugees, they should really read this book to truly understand what their lives are like. You will never know what it’s like to walk in their shoes but this memoir will give you a small taste of it; but you’ll be lucky to be where you are... safe, warm and not starving. If you’re going to read one meaningful book this year, make it this one.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

    The story of the Kurdi family and of other Syrian refugees was heartbreaking and I learned much that I did not know. However the writing was repetitive and fairly textbook style. So although the content may have been 4-5 stars, the writing brought it down to a 3 for me.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Fiona

    This book is timely and topical but fairly meh in terms of the actual writing.

  15. 4 out of 5

    melhara

    In 2015, the image of 3-year-old Alan Kurdi, washed ashore and lying facedown on the beach, went viral around the world. Alan, his 5-year-old brother Ghalib, and their mother Rehanna, drowned while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea and seek refuge in Europe. Only their father, Abdullah, survived. The image of Alan Kurdi was a wake-up call to the world and a cry for help - how many more children need to die before countries around the world decide to open their borders to refugees in need In 2015, the image of 3-year-old Alan Kurdi, washed ashore and lying facedown on the beach, went viral around the world. Alan, his 5-year-old brother Ghalib, and their mother Rehanna, drowned while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea and seek refuge in Europe. Only their father, Abdullah, survived. The image of Alan Kurdi was a wake-up call to the world and a cry for help - how many more children need to die before countries around the world decide to open their borders to refugees in need? This book was written by Fatima (Tima) Kurdi, Abdullah's older sister and the aunt of Alan and Gallip Kurdi. Tima had immigrated to Canada in the 90's before conflict and war had reached Syria. Despite being halfway across the world, she maintained close ties with her family in Syria, visiting often and calling them on a regular basis. The author does a wonderful job describing Syria as she remembered it - the Syria from before the war was full of friendly and loving people and neighbours and sounded like a beautiful place to live and grow up. However, when the war reached Syria, her family was forced to abandon their home and seek refuge in Turkey where Syrians were mistreated and where finding a living and supporting a family was next to impossible. As the situation worsened, her family made the difficult decision of attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea and seek asylum in Europe. As the war unfolded, Tima was wracked with guilt and helplessness of being unable to help her family. The process of sponsoring her family to come to Canada was full of lengthy bureaucratic obstacles that made it next to impossible for her family to come to Canada. The only thing she was able to do was send money to her family, but even that wasn't enough. As bombings and violence because more prevalent in Syria, her family was forced to abandon their home and seek refuge in Turkey. While Turkey's borders were open to Syrians, Syrians could not apply for citizenship, could not get regular jobs, and the children could not go to school. Syrians living in Turkey were also often mistreated and finding accommodation, work, and supporting a family was difficult under the circumstances. As the situation worsened, Kurdi's family made the difficult decision of attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Greece and travel to Germany (Germany being one of the few countries that were granting asylum to Syrian refugees). I felt frustrated and hearbroken reading about the injustice of it all. I can't even begin to imagine the level of frustration, worry, guilt and fear that Tima and her family had to endure. "If I hadn't sent the money for the smugglers, Rehanna, Ghalib, and Alan would still be alive. If I hadn't become obsessed with Abdullah's [missing] teeth and offered to pay for implants, he would never have asked me for such a large sum of money to take that crossing to Kos instead. If I had been more generous with money when they were living in Istanbul - for food, for rent, for milk, for Ghalib's eczema medication - maybe they wouldn't have had to resort to attempting that crossing. Too many what ifs, crashing into each other." But most of all, I couldn't imagine what Abdullah went through when he lost his family. "I felt as if Abdullah was dead too. His family was his whole life. He had lost everything that mattered. Now, without them, how would he go on? And who would he become?" I debated between giving this book a 4.5 or 5 stars and ultimately settled on 5. The writing itself left something to be desired. However, seeing as English wasn't Kurdi's first language (and was a language that she learned in adulthood) nor did she have a post-secondary education, she did a remarkable job (with, according to the acknowledgements, some assistance from a ghost writer) at relaying events and getting the message and emotions across to the readers. For that, I've decided to round my review up to a full 5-stars. tl;dr - This was an utterly heartbreaking, eye-opening, and important account on the injustice and hardships that Syrians face when seeking asylum. This is a book that's definitely going to stay with me for a while.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    I admit I was ignorant to the story of the Syrian refugees. Sure I had seen the picture of the boy on the beach like the rest of the world, but hadn’t really taken the time to understand what was happening in their home country to put them in the position of risking their lives to try and get to a better one. The author did a good job of trying to explain the situation, the impact on the families involved (both near and far), and how she became a spokesperson and advocate. Definitely worth the t I admit I was ignorant to the story of the Syrian refugees. Sure I had seen the picture of the boy on the beach like the rest of the world, but hadn’t really taken the time to understand what was happening in their home country to put them in the position of risking their lives to try and get to a better one. The author did a good job of trying to explain the situation, the impact on the families involved (both near and far), and how she became a spokesperson and advocate. Definitely worth the time to read this.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    Tima Kurdi's "The Boy on the Beach" is the absolutely heart wrenching story of the life and family behind the world changing photograph of 2year old Alan Kurdi in his red t-shirt and jean shorts face down in the sand at the water's edge. This book is an absolute must read for everyone in order to understand the magnitude of what happened and is still happening in Syria and the Middle East. The Kurdi family was an average middle class family just like many North American families, until very sudd Tima Kurdi's "The Boy on the Beach" is the absolutely heart wrenching story of the life and family behind the world changing photograph of 2year old Alan Kurdi in his red t-shirt and jean shorts face down in the sand at the water's edge. This book is an absolute must read for everyone in order to understand the magnitude of what happened and is still happening in Syria and the Middle East. The Kurdi family was an average middle class family just like many North American families, until very suddenly everything changed. The pain, suffering, heart ache, and loss that Syrians had to endure is mind blowing, but instead of letting is sour their hearts, they have kept their focus on family, helping others, and working towards peace. This book really drives it home that we are all the same, and in the blink of an eye it could be us running for our lives with nothing but our children and our clothes on our backs. Would you like to be treated the way the Kurdi family and tens of millions of other refugees have been treated? "The Boy on the Beach" is a much needed wakeup call.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gail Amendt

    In September 2015 a haunting photo went viral on social media. It showed the lifeless body of a two year old Syrian boy washed up on a beach in Turkey. His name was Alan Kurdi, and he drowned along with his mother and brother when his refugee family attempted to reach Greece in a small boat. This photo opened the eyes of the world to the plight of the Syrian people, many of whom had fled their war-torn country and were searching for a safe place to live. Alan's Canadian aunt wrote this book, tel In September 2015 a haunting photo went viral on social media. It showed the lifeless body of a two year old Syrian boy washed up on a beach in Turkey. His name was Alan Kurdi, and he drowned along with his mother and brother when his refugee family attempted to reach Greece in a small boat. This photo opened the eyes of the world to the plight of the Syrian people, many of whom had fled their war-torn country and were searching for a safe place to live. Alan's Canadian aunt wrote this book, telling the story of her family's life in Syria before the war, their struggles to find safety in the years since war broke out, and her struggle to bring her family to Canada. It is well written and humble, and serves to remind us that our similarities are much greater than our differences. It does get a little preachy and political at times, but given what her family has suffered I think that can be forgiven.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Neil Devenny

    Every single person who has sat at their parents computer, or on their toilet with their mobile device typing “send them back”, or other thoughtless, racist, hurtful things when presented with a family that seeks asylum in our country needs to read this book. Tima’s story about her refugee family prompted me to craft a lengthy tirade in the notes app on my phone, which will likely end up on Facebook - the official home of thoughtless, racist, hurtful comments. Long story short, by reading this b Every single person who has sat at their parents computer, or on their toilet with their mobile device typing “send them back”, or other thoughtless, racist, hurtful things when presented with a family that seeks asylum in our country needs to read this book. Tima’s story about her refugee family prompted me to craft a lengthy tirade in the notes app on my phone, which will likely end up on Facebook - the official home of thoughtless, racist, hurtful comments. Long story short, by reading this book, you’ll get a clear understanding of what it was like in Syria before and during the war, of why people are fleeing the region, and of how hard it is to seek asylum in several nations across the world, including Canada. Pro tip: if some of the facts in this book fill you with as much rage as it did me, listen to Fuck the Border by Propagandhi. It (sort of) helps.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    This book has been long-listed for the CBC Canada Reads 2019. The theme for this year is One Book to Move you. This book should definitely be included in the final list and have discussions around it on the show. It provides a spotlight into how a family goes from happy, comfortable middle class life to desperate refugees willing to risk everything for a sense of safety. It is an unflinching look how a country in civil war upends everything its citizens know and the horrors humans are capable of This book has been long-listed for the CBC Canada Reads 2019. The theme for this year is One Book to Move you. This book should definitely be included in the final list and have discussions around it on the show. It provides a spotlight into how a family goes from happy, comfortable middle class life to desperate refugees willing to risk everything for a sense of safety. It is an unflinching look how a country in civil war upends everything its citizens know and the horrors humans are capable of inflicting on each other. The refugee crisis continues, not just in Syria but in just about every continent. It is a human interest story that deserves to be read so those of us fortunate enough not to live in a war zone can begin to understand how desperation can drive a parent to the riskiest of choices.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jo-Ann

    The author tells her family's story. Fatima starts by explaining what it was like growing up in Syria. Then she shares with us what life was like for her siblings who became refugees as a result of the Syrian civil war. She had emigrated to Canada in 1992 and seeks to assist her family to escape from Syria and Turkey. Her brother's wife and two sons die as they attempt to illegally reach Greece from Turkey. His son is the "boy on the beach" whose heart-wrenching picture brings the plight of refug The author tells her family's story. Fatima starts by explaining what it was like growing up in Syria. Then she shares with us what life was like for her siblings who became refugees as a result of the Syrian civil war. She had emigrated to Canada in 1992 and seeks to assist her family to escape from Syria and Turkey. Her brother's wife and two sons die as they attempt to illegally reach Greece from Turkey. His son is the "boy on the beach" whose heart-wrenching picture brings the plight of refugees to public attention around the world. By sharing her family's experience, Fatima hopes to shed light on the refugee crisis and incite countries to open their borders to their immigration. This is my sixth book in my "reading the world" challenge.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lara

    "When you are in the depths of grief, it seems utterly absurd that people are alive one day, and then the next, they are gone." "...lives had been shattered by war, racism, and intolerance... Each of their heartbreaking stories could fill a book." "...when tragedy strikes, it's hard to tame the fear that life could become even worse, no matter how much you fight off these dark thoughts." "Forget what hurts you. It won't change anything. Be proud of yourself and remember that our story is one of ma "When you are in the depths of grief, it seems utterly absurd that people are alive one day, and then the next, they are gone." "...lives had been shattered by war, racism, and intolerance... Each of their heartbreaking stories could fill a book." "...when tragedy strikes, it's hard to tame the fear that life could become even worse, no matter how much you fight off these dark thoughts." "Forget what hurts you. It won't change anything. Be proud of yourself and remember that our story is one of many. Inshallah, everyone will follow your courage." "It's the poor people who suffer most, at the hands of the powerful, the mighty who pull the strings and the levers."

  23. 4 out of 5

    David Pilon

    A powerful and intimate perspective of one family's tragic exposure to the Syrian refugee crisis that began in 2011, hailed as the largest refugee crisis of our time. Tima's recount of the hardships her refugee family members (while she lived in Canada) endured since 2011 (in contrast to a loving and safe upbringing) allowed me a glimpse into life experiences i'm fortunate to never have lived. The memoir's message is clear: stop war; aid OTHERS; love- for we are more similar than different. I'm g A powerful and intimate perspective of one family's tragic exposure to the Syrian refugee crisis that began in 2011, hailed as the largest refugee crisis of our time. Tima's recount of the hardships her refugee family members (while she lived in Canada) endured since 2011 (in contrast to a loving and safe upbringing) allowed me a glimpse into life experiences i'm fortunate to never have lived. The memoir's message is clear: stop war; aid OTHERS; love- for we are more similar than different. I'm glad I've had the opportunity to read this inspiring book which teaches us just how much we can give back to others in need. I have definitely grown from reading it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ahrun Thiyagarajah

    Incredibly moving account of what it’s like to be a refugee, and the trauma inflicted upon those whose lives were torn apart by the Syrian War. As a child of refugees, this book opened my eyes further to the struggles of being part of a diaspora community, living worlds apart but still being tethered to your family. I read this last night in one sitting, and left with feelings of anger, sadness, and motivation to do a little more for those looking for the chance at a safer and better life. Highl Incredibly moving account of what it’s like to be a refugee, and the trauma inflicted upon those whose lives were torn apart by the Syrian War. As a child of refugees, this book opened my eyes further to the struggles of being part of a diaspora community, living worlds apart but still being tethered to your family. I read this last night in one sitting, and left with feelings of anger, sadness, and motivation to do a little more for those looking for the chance at a safer and better life. Highly recommend, the world should never forget Alan and what his family’s story represents - we can all do more to prevent tragedies like his.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    From the book blurb: "Tima Kurdi's memoir "The Boy on the Beach: A Syrian Family's Story of Love, Loss, and Hope During the Global Refugee Crisis" will be published by Simon & Schuster Canada in the spring of 2018. The heartbreaking photo of young Alan Kurdi's lifeless body lying face down on a Turkish beach received worldwide attention in September 2015 and generated outrage over the plight of refugees fleeing war-ravaged Syria. Tima Kurdi, who is based in Coquitlam, B.C., was thrust into the med From the book blurb: "Tima Kurdi's memoir "The Boy on the Beach: A Syrian Family's Story of Love, Loss, and Hope During the Global Refugee Crisis" will be published by Simon & Schuster Canada in the spring of 2018. The heartbreaking photo of young Alan Kurdi's lifeless body lying face down on a Turkish beach received worldwide attention in September 2015 and generated outrage over the plight of refugees fleeing war-ravaged Syria. Tima Kurdi, who is based in Coquitlam, B.C., was thrust into the media spotlight and became a public face of the family's shock and grief."

  26. 5 out of 5

    Yuko Shimizu

    I am clearly not the intended audience of this book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Safar Ali

    It's a good book to read. It's a good book to read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Wesley Wilson

    I read this for my work book club, and the book was okay. I was very open to reading this book because I felt it was vital for me to learn more about the war in Syria. I wasn’t aware of the specific challenges people are facing there. I feel more informed. That being said, this book didn’t read very well. It was pretty repetitive and dragged on a little. I find these issues are common in non-fiction books. Overall, I am happy I read the book and found some scenes were extraordinarily vivid and g I read this for my work book club, and the book was okay. I was very open to reading this book because I felt it was vital for me to learn more about the war in Syria. I wasn’t aware of the specific challenges people are facing there. I feel more informed. That being said, this book didn’t read very well. It was pretty repetitive and dragged on a little. I find these issues are common in non-fiction books. Overall, I am happy I read the book and found some scenes were extraordinarily vivid and graphic. It may not be the most leisurely read, but I still think it’s worth reading.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ben Truong

    The Boy on the Beach is an autobiography written by Tima Kurdi, a refugee from Syria, living in Canada, whose quiet provincial life was thrust aside, when her three-year-old nephew, Alan Kurdi, was photographed dead on the beach near Bodrum, Turkey. This book focuses on her Kurdish family and her fight to get her family to Canada during the refugee crisis that the 2011 Syrian Civil War. Tima Kurdi is a Canadian refugee hairdresser and found herself in the role of an international advocate for ref The Boy on the Beach is an autobiography written by Tima Kurdi, a refugee from Syria, living in Canada, whose quiet provincial life was thrust aside, when her three-year-old nephew, Alan Kurdi, was photographed dead on the beach near Bodrum, Turkey. This book focuses on her Kurdish family and her fight to get her family to Canada during the refugee crisis that the 2011 Syrian Civil War. Tima Kurdi is a Canadian refugee hairdresser and found herself in the role of an international advocate for refugees everywhere when a picture of Alan Kurdi, her nephew, went viral and brought international recognition to the perils of the European Refugee Crisis. Tima Kurdi immigrated to Canada when she was twenty-two and when the Syrian Civil War broke out in 2011 – she tried everything she could think of to bring her family to Canada. Alan Kurdi is the titular Boy on the Beach. He was a three-year-old Syrian boy of Kurdish ethnic background whose image made international headlines after he drowned on 2 September 2015 in the Mediterranean Sea. He and his family were Syrian refugees trying to reach Europe amid the European refugee crisis. His death, while tragic, brought international scrutiny on about the crisis and gave his aunt, Tima Kurdi, a bigger voice – an international voice about refugees everywhere. The Boy on the Beach is a gripping and timely memoir. Tima Kurdi recounts her idyllic childhood in Damascus, Syria, where she grew up with her brother Abdullah (Alan Kurdi's father) and other siblings in a tight-knit family. To fulfill her wanderlust, she found herself immigrating to Canada at twenty-two, but much of her family remained in Damascus. Life as a single mother and immigrant in a new country was not always easy, but she was grateful to be living in Canada. However, she was terribly homesick as she recounts with heart-wrenching honesty the anguish of being torn between a new home and the world she had left behind. Tima Kurdi gave a wonderful voice to how many immigrants feel when the venture into a new country. They are grateful to be in their new country, yet their struggle to adapt to a new life and their longing for their home is rather universal to immigrants and refugees everywhere. While Tima Kurdi was trying to adapt to her new life in Canada, war overtook her homeland. Her family was caught in the cross-hairs of a civil war. While her family risked everything and fled their homes, Tima Kurdi worked tirelessly to help them find safety and eventually bring them to Canada with her. However, both their journeys will not be easy. The immigration process in Canada is not easy and a very lengthy process – it seems that all of Tima Kurdi's progress seemed to be thwarted at every turn. One could really feel the frustration and urgency as Tima Kurdi finds a legal manner to bring her extended family into relative safety. Nevertheless, her plight was inconsequential to that her family had to face. They were not only thwarted politically, but they were hounded by violence and uncertainty as well. Yet through all the setbacks, they never gave up hope of seeing each other again – until tragedy struck. Out of desperation, Abdullah Kurdi arranged for an illegal passage from Bodrum, Turkey to Kos in Greece and paid nearly six thousand dollars for four seats on the boat. In the early hours of 2 September 2015, Abdullah Kurdi and his family including his three-year-old son, Alan, boarded a small inflatable boat, which capsized about five minutes after leaving. Sixteen people were in the boat, which was designed for half their capacity. They have life-jackets, but it seemed ineffective or fake. Two children died – one was Alan Kurdi who was photographed that went viral. Tima Kurdi instantly knew that the child in the picture that went viral was her nephew – mainly because the clothes that he was wearing were clothes that she bought for him. The realization and her ensuing reaction was heart breaking and very surreal. Despite what she was feeling internally, she recognized the international outrage and interest that her nephew's photo had produced and she took that fleeting advantage to give her a global voice for refugees everywhere. The autobiography is written extraordinary well. The reader could feel the reverberation and ripples of the Syrian Civil War that reaches beyond its borders. The book is a wonderful and harrowing journey started in pre-civil war Damascus to the war torn streets of Aleppo to the refugee camps of Europe and the beaches of Turkey with parallel location within the leafy suburbs of Vancouver. This one family's plight to find safety is a wonderful and accurate representation of the many different families that has been displaced by war. All in all, The Boy on the Beach is an extremely well-written autobiography about a family's story of love, loss, and the persistent search for a safe harbor to call home in a devastating time of war.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Domonique Francesca

    Everyone! Needs! To! Read! This! A tragic story told beautifully. Puts into perspective a lot about life.

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