A Hope More Powerful than the Sea: Voice of A Syrian Refugee

Setelah sekian lama, akhirnya kembali lagi ke book review! Karena buku ini ditulis dalam bahasa Inggris dan sejauh yang saya tahu buku ini belum diterjemahkan ke dalam bahasa Indonesia, maka review bukunya pun akan menggunakan bahasa Inggris. So here we go…

I bought the e-book from Amazon at the end of last year when Amazon gave HUGE discount for books that both were nominated and won Goodreads Choice Awards in 2017. However, the book has been sitting in my Kindle for… well, more than a month, waiting to be read. Then, last week I just had time to read and finished it for only few days. At least my debt paid off :p


Doaa Al Zamel spent her entire life living peacefully in Daraa, Syria with her family. Her three older sister were married and lived with their husbands, and Doaa have three little siblings, Hawara, Saja, and Hamudi. In 2011, a demonstration broke off in Daraa, demanding the current government to step down. However, instead of resolving the demonstration in a peaceful way, the government deployed their military forces to capture whoever opposed the government. Then clashes happened, and everything got ugly. Many of people were either went missing, went to jail, tortured, or even faced death.

When Doaa’s father’s salon was blown up by a missile, they knew that they could no longer stay in Syria and went to Egypt to seek for temporary shelter. At that time, Egyptian government had an open policy for Syrian refugees who sought for shelter. Doaa’s family lived in Egypt for several years, before they were forced to flee again. At this time, there was a demand to stop the wave of refugees as the country itself faced its own hardship with its high inflation and political crisis. Knowing that going back home wouldn’t be a choice, Doaa was aiming for Sweden, together with her fiance, Bassem. She planned to arrive in Sweden to start a family with Bassem, and brought her family through a family reunification program.

However, the ship that brought her and other 500 refugees sunk in the Mediterranean sea. Doaa witnessed her fellow refugees died before her eyes. And in the middle of the sea, only hope that she had left…

My review

I must say, the writing is not that good, but it is not bad, either… At least it didn’t give me headache while reading it, and it didn’t bore me either. Melissa Fleming is a humanitarian and not a writer, so I can understand the quality of writing. BUT. This doesn’t make the substance of the book any less important. She managed to capture all important parts of the story and made us readers feel how terrible it was. I appreciate that she wrote this book, because Doaa’s voice is so important, and the book resonates it. Doaa’s voice is not only hers, but also represents other refugees; adults, adolescents, children, that they only want to have a peaceful life. My prayer goes to all of those who are still struggling and who have passed.

Key takeaways

  • If you think the story is too horrific to be true, unfortunately, it is a true story. Doaa’s story is only one of millions of refugees and displaced people who have fled their homes and lived in uncertainty. While they needed to leave their home that had been torn apart, their lives living as refugees did not get any better either.
  • Around 5 million Syrians have become refugees and fled to the neighboring countries; Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey. If you want to know the summary of the book, watch this TED Talk by Melissa Fleming, the author of the book. It’s tearing your heart out imagining what Doaa’s been going through,
  • In wars and crises, the most disadvantaged people are always civilians, who lost their jobs, homes, and worst, families and friends. Women and children are most vulnerable during the situation as they faced the threat of sexual harassment, kidnapping, until rape. Likewise, many of children experienced trauma and depression due to violence they witnessed, and their rights to be protected, to get education, to enjoy their childhood, are violated.

I rate the book ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

A Hope More Powerful than the Sea
Author: Melissa Fleming
Year: 2017
Pages: 288 pages
Publisher: Flatiron Books

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