The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri is an emotional story of profound loss and struggle. It is also a story of strength and hope.
Nuri and cousin Mustafa have an incredible bond which has allowed them to grow their own successful beekeeping business. The telling of the beekeeping is beautiful and full of symbolic meaning to me (I wrote my Master’s thesis on bee imagery!). Their peaceful existence is upended when Syria is sieged, which causes horrible loss for both of them. They both lose a son, and their apiaries are burned to the ground. Mustafa leaves to join his wife and daughter; he sent them to the UK before the real danger started. Meanwhile, Nuri’s wife Afra won’t leave. She was blinded by the explosion that took their eight year old son, and she refuses to leave their home… until they are given no option.
The story continues following Nuri and Afra’s journey to find refuge. Their travels are filled with danger, filthy camps, and so many others with their own stories of pain and determination. Both are traveling in the wake of severe depression and PTSD. Through all of this, Nuri’s only driving force is to rejoin Mustafa and to somehow get back a little of their previous existence.
This story has a beautiful flow as it reveals previous events and characters. I found it incredibly touching and powerful.