Prize-winning journalist and the coauthor of smash New York Times best seller I Am Malala, Christina Lamb now tells the inspiring true story of another remarkable young hero: Nujeen Mustafa, a teenager born with cerebral palsy whose harrowing journey from war-ravaged Syria to Germany in a wheelchair is a breathtaking tale of fortitude, grit, and hope that lends a face to the greatest humanitarian issue of our time: the Syrian refugee crisis.
For millions around the globe, 16-year-old Nujeen Mustafa embodies the best of the human spirit. Confined to a wheelchair because of her cerebral palsy and denied formal schooling in Syria because of her illness, Nujeen taught herself English by watching American soap operas. When her small town became the epicenter of the brutal fight between ISIS militants and US-backed Kurdish troops in 2014, she and her family were forced to flee.
Despite her physical limitations, Nujeen embarked on the arduous trek to safety and a new life. The grueling 16-month odyssey by foot, boat, and bus took her across Turkey and the Mediterranean to Greece, through Macedonia to Serbia and Hungary, and finally to Germany. Yet in spite of the tremendous physical hardship she endured, Nujeen's extraordinary optimism never wavered. Refusing to give in to despair or see herself as a passive victim, she kept her head high. As she told a BBC reporter, "You should fight to get what you want in this world."
Nujeen's positivity and resolve infuses this unforgettable story of one young woman determined to make a better life for herself. Told by acclaimed British foreign correspondent Christina Lamb, Nujeen is a unique and powerful memoir that gives voice to the Syrian refugee crisis, helping us to understand that the world must change - and offering the inspiration to make that change reality.
©2016 Christina Lamb and Nujeen Mustafa (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers
I am an avid eclectic reader.
This memoir puts a different face on the Syrian refugee crisis. Nujeen was born with cerebral palsy and has spent her life in a wheelchair. She is a sixteen-year-old Kurdish girl and has very little formal education. She taught herself English by watching U.S. soap operas on television. In 2014 her City, Koban, was the center of fighting between ISIS and the U.S. backed Kurdish forces. They escaped to Aleppo where they lived a few years and then fled to Turkey.
Her sister Nisreen helped her and they fled to the island of Lesbos in Greece. This is where Fegal Keane of the BBC interviewed her. They traveled by ferry and bus to the Serbian/Hungarian border; they arrived as it was closed to the refugees. This is where the BBC again interviewed her. They had to then walk to Croatia and on to Germany. The sisters finally reached Germany and were reunited with brother Bland and sister Nahda. She has asked Germany for Asylum. She is attending a special school for pupils with disabilities. She states that Germany and the German people have been kind to her. She is learning German and making friends. Her parents remain in Turkey.
This is an uplifting story. Nujeen faced many dangers and met life with a positive attitude. I have great admiration for her sister Nisreen who took care of her on the trip. The memoir was written with Christine Lamb who also co-wrote “I am Malala”. The courage of both these young women is amazing. The memoir is clearly written and the details from life in Aleppo to the trek to Germany are dramatic. This is a must-read book for everyone of all ages.
Raghad Chaar does an excellent job narrating the story. Chaar is an actress and producer. She is a graduate of The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and an audiobook narrator.
I first heard of Nujeen on a radio program that interviewed her from her home in Germany. When I found this book on Audible, I snapped it up quickly.
Nujeen has some unique insights for someone so young, whose disability and culture don't often intersect in friendly ways. I found this book effectively explained why Syria is in its current state, especially how it affected everyday citizens.
In some ways Nujeen's disability defines her... because it had to. she would definitely not be the person she is without her disability. She wrote in poignant detail about feeling like a burden to her family, and yet how they supported her. She now lives in a much more disability-friendly country, with more opportunities available. She is innocent and charming in some ways, wise beyond her years in others.
And yet in other ways, she makes comments about others' disabilities that she has stated she wouldn't like having been made about her. When she watch MasterChef with a blind cook, she commented that "even blind people" can become successful cooks. In her school, there are people with other disabilities that she called "stupid" or "not as smart" or "annoying." perhaps because she's lived her entire life as the only disabled person in her community, it is hard for her to empathize. My disability is different from hers, and I've had to learn the hard way through time, age, and exposure that disability - whatever it is - does not devalue one's own life and lived experience.
The narrator was a terrific choice for this production. She matches Nujeen's voice quite well (though the narrator's is slightly lower). Her dialogue was not her strength, but this book held very little of that.
Well worth your time, money or credit.
Report Inappropriate Content