The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri
My name is Rosie, and I have just started volunteering with Bookcase for All.
While we are still waiting for everything to start opening up again I have spent most of lockdown getting through my TBR (To Be Read) pile and came across a Buddy Read for this wonderful book. A Buddy Read is when a number of pages is set out by the organiser and we discuss the pages of the day, each day, for a week. I felt like I needed the support group for this book.
‘The Beekeeper of Aleppo’ follows Nuri, a Syrian beekeeper, living happily in Aleppo with his wife Afra, and son Sami, until the unthinkable happens and they are forced to flee their home, their country, and their lives as they know them. This is the story of refugees, not just from Syria, but from all over the world and the journeys that they make because their home is no longer safe.
The characters are intriguing. Nuri is the man of the house, but a sensitive soul, with the love of the outdoors while his wife, Afra, is an artist but has lost her sight, and to begin with we only see her through Nuri’s eyes. The development of these characters as the book grows is so important to the plot, we are on this journey with them, evolving as they do, coming to terms with new realities in each chapter.
I cannot begin to tell you how emotive Lefteri’s writing is, how each tale told in this book is based on a true story that she heard when volunteered at a refugee centre. We begin at the end of Nuri & Afra’s story, we know they make it to the UK, so why the whole book? With each chapter we move back and forth through Nuri’s memory, his life before, his experience seeking asylum, and his journey. Knowing they make it safely to the UK only builds the tension. As a group we found ourselves frustrated with Afra, she does not seem to say much at all, but towards the end her words are the most poignant. The arrival of Mohammed caused much conversation, which I don’t think I would have noticed as early if it had not been for my reading buddies. The way that some characters have names, others do not, each playing their own part in a much bigger story. Each detail in this book is not to be overlooked. The underlying theme throughout is love and loss; how we show it, how we feel it, and the effect it can have on us. It is a book that will stay with you for a long time.
Overall I feel enlightened by this book, I felt like doing it as a Buddy Read helped me discuss areas of the book I wouldn’t have noticed, kept me going through areas I may not have read quite as quickly and could discuss with like minded people areas I wouldn’t normally bring up in conversation, but are important to talk about. For this reason I am holding a Buddy Read myself at the end of the month from 18th April 2021 to read ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ by Khaled Hossein. If you would like to be involved please message me via our Instagram @bookcaseforall and if you liked this book review I have more on @rosie_read_a_book