“The human heart is the most complicated creation I’ve ever encounter. The formation of the cosmos was easier to understand.”
~Atia Abawi, A Land of Permanent Goodbyes (Uncorrected text)
A Land of Permanent Goodbyes
By Atia Abawi
Publisher: Philomel Books
Publication Date: January 23, 2018
Narrated by Destiny, this heartbreaking — and timely — story of refugees escaping from war-torn Syria is masterfully told by a foreign news correspondent who experienced the crisis firsthand.
In a country ripped apart by war, Tareq lives with his big and loving family . . . until the bombs strike. His city is in ruins. His life is destroyed. And those who have survived are left to figure out their uncertain future.
In the wake of destruction, he’s threatened by Daesh fighters and witnesses a public beheading. Tareq’s family knows that to continue to stay alive, they must leave. As they travel as refugees from Syria to Turkey to Greece, facing danger at every turn, Tareq must find the resilience and courage to complete his harrowing journey.
But while this is one family’s story, it is also the timeless tale of all wars, of all tragedy, and of all strife. When you are a refugee, success is outliving your loss. Destiny narrates this heartbreaking story of the consequences of war, showing the Syrian conflict as part of a long chain of struggles spanning through time.
Guest Post: Atia Abawi on Writing A Land of Permanent Goodbyes
This was not an easy book for me to write. In fact, on almost a daily basis I was brought to tears. Books like these do take an emotional toll because I think to make it work you have to really empathize and internalize what you are sharing with the reader – because you want it to be as authentic as possible.
I was originally researching another novel when I decided to write A Land of Permanent Goodbyes. But the news coverage of the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing hardship and walking on the highways of Europe in 2015 captivated my attention and heart. I was at home holding and nursing my beautiful baby as I watched mothers exhaustingly carrying their own beautiful babies across borders in search of safety and freedom. I knew at the drop of a hat (more likely a bomb) I could be in their shoes as well. My parents had been once. I thought of my mother and father and the perilous journey they took a few decades ago when my brother was two and my mother was eight months pregnant with me. They too were escaping war and persecution. I knew I needed to write this novel.
I started my research by traveling to both Turkey and Greece so I could meet the people living the nightmare we were watching through our screens. People that were forced from their homes and lives in order to survive and have their families survive. Each and every person had a different story, all captivating, riveting and heartbreaking. Through these trips I was also lucky enough to meet the lovely people who were taking time out of their lives to help them – the volunteers – and decided to include them in the novel to show that humanity and love exists even in the darkest of times.
As I continued my research – talking to people, watching news clips, reading harrowing accounts – my heart broke daily. But I was inspired to continue in hopes that someway and somehow my book can give a deeper glimpse into the crisis – the people, the love, the lives. Some hearts have grown cold and hard towards those who are suffering but I truly believe education and information can chip away at the ice and replace fear with understanding and compassion, if not love.
Some books enter your life and leave a mark, and then there are those that stay etched within you permanently. You know by the time you close them, that you are wiser and better for having read them. A Land of Permanent Goodbyes is the paragon of such books.
Thrusting the reader into the heart of the Syrian refugee crisis, it serves to not only enlighten but encourage one to want more. To want to know more, to want to do more and to want to be more. A distinct narration told through Destiny, crafts a powerful and sincere observance of humanity and one young boy’s journey to seek a secure and safe life for his sister and father that pulls at every emotion, offering the reader a chance to relish in the smallest victories and cry with the greatest losses.
A Land of Permanent Goodbyes accomplishes and covers an impressive list of important topics over the span of less than 300 pages. Subtle at times and brazen during others, it exposes the reader to the reality of refugee life and the terrors and struggles entailed within. Not a comfort read, but certainly food for the soul and heart, it challenges one to assess government policies and relief systems in place, acknowledging flaws and weaknesses while also allowing a glimpse of the good that still exists among it all, thereby lending the reader a hope and desire for something better in humanity.
One of the most raw, significant and forceful stories I have had the fortune of encountering, I believe A Land of Permanent Goodbyes deserves to be experienced by all.
*I would like to thank the publisher and author for this copy. The above review is my own, unbiased opinion.
Savored over a cup of white jasmine tea with hibiscus blossoms.