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A Land of Permanent Goodbyes
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Only Tareq, his little sister and his father are left after a bomb destroys their home and kills the rest of their close-knit family. In the wake of this unbearable loss, the three plan to leave Syria for the dream of asylum in Europe. The journey is terrible from the start, with desperate refugees packing into overcrowded camps in unsympathetic cities. From Turkey, Tareq decides their best chance is to cross the Aegean Sea, which requires giving all their money to unscrupulous smugglers. This arrangement, along with the dangers of the sea and hostile attacks by the Turkish Coast Guard, is enough to drain Tareq of his humanity. But when his family arrives in Greece, he makes the fortuitous acquaintance of an American volunteer, who encourages him with words from Mr. Rogers: “Look for the helpers.”

Destiny acts as the omniscient narrator of [b]A Land of Permanent Goodbyes[/b], granting insight into the hearts of the characters and a broader overview of the refugee experience. As author Atia Abawi artfully illustrates, refugees are created by circumstances that can happen anywhere. A perfect companion novel to Alan Gratz’s [i]Refugee[/i], this humanizing, often harrowing and sometimes transcendent novel fosters compassion and understanding.
 
[i]Diane Colson is the Library Director at City College in Gainesville, Florida.[/i]
[i]This article was originally published in the February 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.[/i]
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