The stories and images out of Syria have haunted me. I want to know more, read more, understand more. I thought My Country would be a fortunate reading opportunity for me to attempt those things, and I am grateful that Kassem Eid survived to tell this story, his story.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
4.5 stars to the powerfully written My Country: A Syrian Memoir! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ .5
Kassem Eid, a Palestinian immigrant, describes his childhood in Syria, the jasmine-scented streets, and his experiences in school. He notices that he is treated differently at school because he is Palestinian. He is always an outsider, and his accomplishments are somewhat limited because of that.
While Eid is growing up, Bashar al-Assad becomes the new leader of Syria, and any wish that he would be more tolerant than his father is quickly dashed. Al-Assad is known for his tyrannical ways to this day, and as his hold on Syria grows stronger, a revolution is generated in response. Al-Assad, in turn, reacts with arrests and extreme violence. As a result, Eid experienced a civil war in his country during his teen years.
In 2013, Kassem Eid is living in Moadamiya, Syria, just outside of Damascus, when there is a gas attack by the government. While a large number of residents are killed right before his eyes, Eid survives. The same day, he is hit by a mortar while he is assisting the Free Syrian Army against al-Assad’s army (i.e., the government’s military). While Eid survives physically, all around him is completely wiped out. He loses everything, and he continues to feel the aftershocks and ongoing devastation that happens in Syria on a daily basis.
This book is beyond timely and exceedingly important. Eid’s experience is human, raw, and beautifully written. My favorite parts are his descriptions of the majesty of Syria during his early childhood and his family life, but the salient, paramount parts, though difficult to read, are everything else.
Thank you to Bloomsbury for the ARC. My Country: A Syrian Memoir will be published on July 3, 2018.
An unforgettable memoir of growing up in Syria under al-Assad’s regime, surviving a gas attack, and rallying worldwide support to break the siege of cities across the country, with a foreword by Janine di Giovanni
Born to Palestinian refugees, Kassem Eid grew up in the small town of Moadamiya on the outskirts of the ancient city of Damascus. The streets that he and his many siblings played on were perfumed with jasmine. A precocious child, he excelled at school, and had a natural gift for languages. But it didn’t take long for Kassem to realise that he was treated differently at school because of his family’s resistance to the brutal government regime.
When Bashar al-Assad succeeded his father in 2000, hopes that he would ease its severity were swiftly crushed. When the 2011 Arab Spring protests in Syria were met with extreme violence, it was yet another blow – and as Kassem reached young adulthood, life in Syria became increasingly precarious, as the country spiralled into civil war.
Then, on 21 August 2013, Kassem nearly died in a sarin gas attack that killed hundreds of civilians. Later that day, he would pick up a gun for the first time, to join the Free Syrian Army as they fought government forces. For Kassem, this marked the moment that he and his country changed forever.
A searing account of oppression, war, survival and escape, My Country is both a brave and deeply felt memoir of one man’s life, as well as a compelling indictment of a world that turned its face away as a nation fell apart.