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.
Kurdi's intimate and tragic account of her family's escape from civil war torn Syria illuminates the human element of the refugee crisis. Kurdi had immigrated to Canada long before the war; after the war was underway, her siblings' families fled the country. Her sister-in-law and nephews drowned while attempting to cross from Istanbul to Kos, Greece, and her nephew Alan became an emblem of the refugee crisis when a photograph of him lying dead on a Turkish beach went viral. Kurdi begins with recollections of her "jasmine-scented" Damascus childhood before movingly describing her life in Canada, the crushing fear and anxiety she felt as her five siblings and their families attempted the dangerous border-crossing into Turkey, and her frustration with the inaction of the Canadian government and the UN to help the refugees. "The refugees were victims of terrorism and global geopolitics," she writes, "yet they were increasingly viewed with the same suspicion and hostility as the terrorists they had barely managed to escape." But she also highlights moments of kindness and love in Canada, Germany, Syria, and elsewhere. This is a moving tale of displacement, tragedy, and family.
YOU MUST READ The Boy on the Beach
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 ⭐️️⭐️️⭐️️⭐️️⭐️️