Homes is the story of Abu Bakr al Rabeeah, as told to Winnie Yeung, about his family’s life in both Iraq and Syria before moving to Canada as refugees in 2015.
For as long as I can remember, there has always been some sort of conflict ongoing in the Middle East. Despite seeing it on the news regularly, I would say that I was pretty apathetic to it all. That isn’t to say that I didn’t understand the tragic nature of an endless war, but it’s difficult to comprehend the enormity of it all. Abu Bakr’s Homes puts a face and a family to the horrors of daily life halfway around the world.
The story begins in Iraq where the Al Rabeeah family spends their days dodging the constant threat of violence as death seemingly lurks around every corner. Finally, fed up with a life lived in fear, the family moves to the town of Homs in Syria. Unfortunately, this is just prior to the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War. In an effort to find peace, they leave Homs for Damascus where the violence will again follow them.
This is an especially heartbreaking read because the author witnessed all of this horror before even reaching fifteen. There are many moments where the family needs to keep quiet and hunker down when hearing explosions and the staccato beat of automatic gunfire outside their home. A few moments later, when the noise ceases, Abu Bakr and his cousins would boot up their PlayStation to play some soccer. It’s something I just can’t imagine dealing with during my childhood – or even now for that matter.
Like Max Eisen’s By Chance Alone, books like Homes are more important now than ever. In an age where people are more egotistical, self-obsessed and apathetic, books like Homes are sorely needed, if only for people to develop a sense of empathy for those looking for understanding and a helping hand.