Escape From Aleppo


Escape from Aleppo (hardcover)

by N.H. Senzai


Escape From Aleppo is about a girl named Nadia who lived a fairly cushioned life in Aleppo prior to the Syrian Civil War.  She is very concerned with her chipped nail polish and reminisces about times when she watched Syrian Idol and talked about how pretty she was.  Now, she finds herself alone after her building is bombed.  She searches for her family and is angry about being left behind, but is determined to find them.  Luckily, she meets an old man who helps keep her safe and agrees to take her to the Turkish border to meet her dad.  She also learns a lot about her priorities and herself when she has to be brave and make tough choices before reaching safety.

What I liked about this book was that I got to learn about what is going on in world I will likely never visit.  I have visited Turkey during a time of peace, but I will probably never see a war torn country like Syria.  It gave me an inside look at what it’s like to live during a war, from the viewpoint of a child in that city.  I also learned a lot about the city and the devastation of the infrastructure, relics, families, and sanity.

What I didn’t like about this book was that it dragged on and on and on at parts.  It took me much longer than it should have.  I started to question whether it was really a children’s book, because it gave so much detail about what was going on politically, and I didn’t think kids would be interested at all.  It left out a lot of the gruesome details, which I appreciated, but I don’t think kids would be able to relate to the story, and would have to invest in the main character to appreciate it.

Book 72 of 40

(Book 38 of 2018)




Persepolis (paperback)

by Marjane Satrapi

AR Level 3.3, 2 points


I first saw Persepolis on my sister’s bookshelf.  It is her very favorite book in the world.  There is a part 2 to this story, and she has the compilation of the 2 books.  I only read the first part, called The Story of Childhood.  She insists that I read part 2, so I’m sure I will eventually get to it.  This is one of my new favorite genres.  It is a comic book based on the author’s life.  It seems that most comic books (aka graphic novels) I have read have been based on experiences of their authors.  I would align this more with Maus that with Drama, though, due to the content of the book and words I wouldn’t want my elementary school child to know.

Marji is a girl growing up during the late 70’s and early 80’s in Iran during the revolution.  She sees the change from a more modern society that accepted Western influence to one that was religious with rigid rules and expectations of women.  Marji’s parents are also modern and don’t like the change in their country.  Their friends and relatives are being jailed and executed, but they do not want Marji to feel that she has to conform.  They take her to protest and fight for rights.  As the war progresses, they realize it is not safe for her to live in Iran, so they have to make some tough decisions on her behalf.

What I liked about this book is that it is historical fiction (although autobiographical), and it is history that I have next to no knowledge of.  I appreciate the way the author explains things as she goes, either through description, subtitles in the comic strips, or through dialogue.  She even adds an asterisk or two to make sure I understand what is going on.  I enjoy learning, and I appreciate that she anticipated her readers not being informed about the subject.

What I didn’t like about this book is that I can’t share it with my students.  Since they are so interested in graphic novels, I thought it would be a great one I could share with them after reading.  I’m so glad I read it first, though, because there is discussion of rape and virgins, and the word “shit” is used several times.  It isn’t a vulgar or inappropriate story, but it isn’t age-appropriate for my sixth graders.  I, however, enjoyed the story myself.

Book 33 of 40 (year 2)