Sea Prayer
by Hosseini, Khaled

An illustrated response to the tragic human realities of the refugee crisis presents a father's letter to his young son on the eve of a dangerous sea crossing, as he reflects on their life before the war in Syria.

Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and moved to the United States in 1980. He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and And the Mountains Echoed. Hosseini is also a U.S. Goodwill Envoy to the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the founder of The Khaled Hosseini Foundation, a nonprofit that provides humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.

Khaled Hosseini will donate author proceeds from this book to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and to The Khaled Hosseini Foundation to help fund life-saving relief efforts to help refugees around the globe.

*Starred Review* In Sea Prayer, acclaimed novelist Hosseini pays tribute to the thousands of refugees who have fled wars and taken a chance on the sea, praying it will lead them to safety. It starts as a letter from a father to his young son, Marwan, recalling happier times in Homs, Syria, before the devastation of war. His memories are replete with the romantic longings of the exiled: the rippling breeze among the olive trees, the bleating of a grandmother's goat. The father fears Marwan will not remember this idyllic beauty, for the Homs Marwan knows is a place of "skies spitting bombs. Starvation. Burials." Williams' sweeping watercolor illustrations provide dramatic visual context, mirroring the emotions of the narrative in washes of warm ocher, crisp blue, and fathomless black. Impressionistic renderings of caravans of migrants, rubble-filled cities, and the perilous ocean capture the frailty of humanity, a feeling the father knows well as he prays for protection for his son. A gold-limned sunrise on the last page suggests optimism, albeit cautiously. Hosseini's eloquent, aching story will resonate with adults and older readers who have some understanding of the current world refugee crisis. For content and artistic ingenuity, this can be paired with Stepping Stones (2016), by Margriet Ruurs. Grades 6-12. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

A poignant letter written by a fearful Syrian father to his son on the eve of a treacherous sea crossing to Europe. Commemorating the third anniversary of the death of 3-year-old Alan Kurdi, whose lifeless body, captured on camera, washed up on shore in September 2015, sparking worldwide outrage, this intensely moving story opens with the father's recollection of the family's peaceful life in Homs, Syria, before the city was turned into a deadly war zone. Writing in the first person, Hosseini successfully contrasts the father's Homs, a bustling and lively city before the war, with the one his son has known, a ravaged city marked with bombings, starvation, and burials. The contrast is rendered through Hosseini's unmatchable lyrical style—but also effectively portrayed on a graphic level through a pronounced change in Williams' palette, warm greens and ochers modulating to slate-blues and grays in the loose, affecting watercolors. The second portion of the letter is a pra yer for a safe journey. It is powerfully evocative of the plight in which displaced populations find themselves, having to undertake a journey known to be unsafe—yet, for many, it is an option they cannot afford not to take. The book reads like an emotional gut-punch…an excruciating one. It is impossible to read without feeling intense compassion for those—and there are thousands—whose lives resemble those of the characters in the book. Powerful. (Picture book. 10-adult) Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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