CBR13 BINGO: Travel (Alexandria Egypt to a Mediterranean island) BINGO! (Free to Machinery row)
I love it when CBR Bingo brings something into my life that I may not have picked up otherwise. On the hunt for the “Travel” square, this title jumped out from the new book display at my library and turned out to be one of the most beautiful books I have ever read.
When bodies wash up on a small Mediterranean island, the local officials gather the remains and comb through the detritus of a sunken refugee boat. The sole survivor, Amir, is a nine year old boy who flees into a grove of trees. A local teenager, Vänna, spots both the boy and the military officials looking to remand him in custody of the island’s detention center. Her split decision to help the boy launches a tender story about the hope of childhood and the cynicism of adulthood. It is the story of two strangers without a shared language or history: a girl who is willing to risk everything to help a boy she doesn’t know and a boy who is willing to trust her. El Akkad gives voice to the human being that the world tends to erase with politics.
This book is absolutely one of my favorites for this year. I could just fill this review with passages from this book. Honestly that is what I would LOVE to do just to give you all an idea of the wordsmithing here. Ugh, it’s brutal but so lovely.
I don’t want to spoil the discovery of this book with too much, but I’ll leave you with this little gem:
“It was a place sick with the ruins of colonial beauty. The new condominiums stood on the grave of the classic British and French and Italian villas, which stood on the graves of the Mamluk palaces, which stood on the graves of the Ottoman mosques, which stood on the graves of the Greek and Roman temples, which stood on the graves of myriad nameless and ancient villages long ago swallowed by the sea. Everywhere these identities warred and the warring produced no victorious identity, no identity at all, only the sense of manifold incompleteness, the universal aftertaste of conquest.”