In The Beekeeper of Aleppo, Nuri and Afra Ibrahim have made the agonizing decision to flee their beloved country of Syria after years of war and deprivation have left them without hope for any kind of sustainable future there. We follow their journey from the present, when they are staying in a Yorkshire shelter going through the asylum application process, back through to their life in Syria before fear, desperation, brutality and finally, the death of their son Sami, propelled them forward towards a dangerously uncertain journey to freedom and peace.
Afra, who has been blind since a bomb exploded in their backyard killing her son, was once a renowned artist whose gorgeous landscapes reflected the intense beauty of the Syria she loved. Nuri has a passion for beekeeping and he and his cousin Mustafa built a successful apiary business creating and processing honey and all of it’s derivations. After a devastating fire burns all of the hives, neither Nuri or Afra are able to find joy in the passions that once sustained them.
We follow them as they are smuggled, first into Turkey and subsequently into Greece. The hardships they endure along this perilous journey are unimaginable. For Nuri, having to be Afra’s eyes intensifies the desperate situation he finds himself in. Through it all though, their love for each other binds them together in spite of the many challenges that they both face.
The story is told through flashbacks from their lives, illuminating for the reader the joyfulness of their lives pre-war as well as the incredible hardships they suffered in the camps that were created for the migrants throughout Europe.
The author, Christy Lefteri, brought to life her experiences as a volunteer at a UNICEF-supported refugee centre in Athens, Greece through the characters and conditions that she depicted in this story. In spite of the overwhelmingly good intentions of NGO volunteers and staff, the onslaught of humanity was overwhelming and thousands of people remain trapped in a vicious cycle of hopelessness barely eking out an existence.
Having said all of that, strands of joy thread throughout this story illustrating extraordinary moments of human kindness and ingenuity. The strength of the human spirit and the power of love and hope can move mountains.
— Nancy C.