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 (Via Goodreads.com).
Release Date: January 23rd, 2018
Rating: 4/5 Stars
I read A Land of Permanent Goodbyes earlier this year and it has resonated with me since. The novel follows Tareq, a teenage boy living happily in Syria until a bomb hits his town and he must flee with his surviving family members. While I already knew about the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis, this novel made me consider the impacts of the crisis on Syrians and the world. I had never really thought about the crisis before and this novel made me think and address my ignorance toward the crisis. Since reading the novel, I have considered pursuing a law degree and eventually working in immigration and refugee laws.
While the novel follows Tareq, it also features a second main character, Alexia, who has alternating chapters with Tareq. She is an American volunteer helping refugees once they have reached the Greek coast. In addition to these two characters, a narrator of sorts is featured, who embodies the concept of "Destiny." It reminded me of the narration of Death in The Book Thief; however, I felt as though the execution was not as strong as Death's role in The Book Thief.
I enjoyed Tareq's character; however, I never fully understood the point of Alexia's character. She was on a completely different continent than Tareq and, while they eventually meet, she resembles the white-savior trope. She provided no subsistence to the novel. While she aided refugees, she could have been anyone. Her character was not nearly as developed as Tareq's. She had no real role or necessity. I never felt particularly attached to her because there was nothing defining or special about her. I understood the value of Tareq's story and character, but not hers. She was interesting, but she could have been featured in any other novel, she had no groundbreaking purpose in A Land of Permanent Goodbyes.
Atia Abawi's writing was extremely engaging. While the story was enough to keep the reader engaged, her writing was extremely addicting. My heart was beating during the Mediterranean crossing and I was mourning for the loss of characters along the way. She developed a fantastic story and tough characters that were able to beat even the worst of circumstances. Her characterization of Tareq was perfect. He was a sweetheart. He loved his family dearly and did all he could to support them. He is a fantastic brother and an extremely loyal companion. It is unfortunate that teens and children have to undertake such frightening, dangerous, and exploitative tasks.
I absolutely loved A Land of Permanent Goodbyes. While I had some issues with the characters, the story was phenomenal and extremely powerful. I felt a range of emotions throughout the novel and I am excited to read Atia Abawi's other novels. The Syrian refugee crisis is an extremely important topic and I am glad to see it being featured in literature. Whether you are extremely knowledgeable about the Syrian refugee crisis or not, I would highly recommend A Land of Permanent Goodbyes. It is an emotional, engaging, and quick read, I highly recommend it.