Land of Permanent Goodbyes
by Abawi, Atia






After their home in Syria is bombed, Tareq, his father, and his younger sister seek refuge, first with extended family in Raqqa, a stronghold for the militant group, Daesh, and then abroad.





Atia Abawi is a foreign news correspondent who was stationed for almost five years in Kabul, Afghanistan. She was born to Afghan parents in West Germany and was raised in the United States. Her first book for teens was the powerful Secret Sky, about forbidden romance between different ethnic tribes. She currently lives in Jerusalem with her husband, Conor Powell, and their son, Arian, where she covers stories unfolding in the middle east and the surrounding areas. You can follow her on Twitter @AtiaAbawi.





Tareq can remember Syria, before the war, before the air strikes, before all of the bombed-out buildings. He misses daily life, how his father would sell food at the market while Tareq helped take care of his siblings. After a bomb drops from the sky and decimates Tareq's family, he begins a sorrowful journey as a refugee, passing through a landscape that is ever changing with other people who are abandoning their homes, whether by choice or fate. This touching read will stir empathy and compassion about the harrowing plight of refugees. Abawi paints a vivid picture of how much control one does not have of her or his own life, especially when up against an entire country's viscous uprising, and helps give perspective on how religion can be used to help create a world where the most basic human rights are violated. Most important, this book illustrates the hardships refugees face in staying connected to the people they love when they are always having to say goodbye. Grades 8-11. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.





From award-winning journalist Abawi (The Secret Sky, 2014) comes an unforgettable novel that brings readers face to face with the global refugee crisis. Tareq, a young Syrian teenager, changes his daily routine as airstrikes on his city increase. When his home is hit by a bomb that kills most of his family in one day, Tareq is suddenly a refugee, traveling with his father and one surviving younger sister, Susan, to another Syrian town, then out of Syria to Turkey. When life in Turkey offers little hope, Tareq's father sends him and Susan to make the treacherous trip to Greece by water. Through incredible dangers and suffering, they meet refugees and aid workers from across the globe. Abawi integrates just enough background information into the plot to make the story and characters comprehensible. The narrator is Destiny, whose authoritative voice suits the tragic and dramatic turns of plot. The narrator's philosophical asides allow readers just enough distance to balance the intimacy of the suffering witnessed along the journey while helping to place the Syrian crisis in global and historical context as part of the cycle of humanity. The direct address challenges readers in a way that is heavy-handed only at the end, but even so it is chillingly effective. A heartbreaking, haunting, and necessary story that offers hope while laying bare the bleakness of the world Tareq leaves and the new one he seeks to join. (Fiction. 12-18) Copyright Kirkus 2017 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.





Hours passed at the site of their bombed-out apartment building. Most of the survivors could do nothing but watch and weep as the corpses were lined up on the ground-bodies that included Tareq's grandmother and mother.

The moon shone bright as he lay between his mama and tehta. Holding their lifeless hands, Tareq tried breathing in his mother's scent one last time, but all he could smell was smoke and dust.

He squeezed her palm, ignoring the sirens that engulfed his neighborhood. Although limp, it was still the same hand that he had held as a timid child when stepping into crowded souks in search of spices and clothes. He stroked the elegant fingers that had caressed him gently, making him feel warm and safe. "I will be okay, Mama, please don't worry. I will take care of my little brothers and sisters just like you took care of us." He looked at her closed eyes with those perfectly arched brows and took in her beauty. Even dead, his mother looked peaceful and gracious. Tareq brought her delicate hand to his mouth, pressing it to his lips ever so gently. A kiss goodbye. A finality he didn't want to accept; no child ever does, no matter their age.

When he looked up, he was brought back into the current chaos, listening to the sounds of wails and the sirens. The man in the white helmet wasn't alone: There were many wearing the same uniform-they all had the same tan vests and tired eyes. Some helmets were brighter, others stained with the gloom of war, a thick layer of death and broken souls.

Tareq spotted the man who had pulled him out-Ahmed-marching forward, carrying something. His headlamp beamed in front of him, making it hard to see what was in his arms. It was when he got closer that Tareq recognized the long dark brown hair bouncing with Ahmed's every step.

"I'm sorry, habibi."

He handed Farrah's wilted body over to her big brother, who rocked the young girl in his arms as he kissed her round cheek. The tears falling from his face cleaned the dust from hers.

"I found her in the room next to where I found you." Ahmed quickly turned and walked away, unable to take the grief.






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