Book review: The Beekeeper of Aleppo, Christy Lefteri

Yet another book read during these summer months and yet another book I wished to share on the blog. Whilst these book reviews seem to be becoming a prominent feature, I do assure you running is still my true, blogging niche. Having said that, when I get my hands on a novel I thoroughly enjoy, I just have to share it with you all and pass on the recommendation. Admittedly, during the past few months of frequent reading, I haven't read a single book that I haven't enjoyed. But, some are undoubtedly more worth noting than others. With this book being another Sunday Times Bestseller, I had fairly high expectations from the outset and was hoping it lived up to the enjoyment of my previously reviewed read; Where The Crawdad's Sing.


Plot

Firstly, although this book is a work of fiction, it is informed through Lefteri’s experiences whilst volunteering in Athens at a refuge centre during her summers. Therefore, this ensures the plot evokes real emotion through the seemingly realistic story being told.


The novel centres around two Syrian families who aim to fled to the United Kingdom during the Syrian Civil War. Although two families are discussed, one is particularly more prevalent and most of the book follows their journey alone. It is told from three different points in time, past and present, to allow the reader to fully understand the narrative taking place. At times, this could be difficult to follow, however it always became clear which time zone was being described within the first page of the new chapter. In addition, this continual change in tense creates room for suspense to be built as elements to the story are left untold until a later chapter.


Lefteri’s story line heavily promotes thought and reflection from the reader, providing an insight into the intense struggles those seeking refuge face as well as the horrors they are fleeing. Through this, it educates those of us who are naive to these situations. I would consider myself one of these, since I was highly unaware of what the journey of a refugee may entail. The plot of The Beekeeper of Aleppo allowed me to become invested in the scenario and constantly wanting to know what happened next. An emotional, courageous and powerful narrative which, I believe, perfectly demonstrates how significant fiction can be in influencing our views and opening our eyes.


As a side note, I also loved the fact that the men in the story were Beekeepers. Beekeeping is something I knew little about, yet find quite fascinating. Learning about various aspects of beekeeping and how they become "at one" with the bees was extremely interesting and added a fun educational bonus to the plot.


Characters

As mentioned, the plot mostly focuses on one family. Nuri, a beekeeper, and his wife Afra are the protagonists of the novel, both of whom I became extremely attached and invested in. Given the underlying tragedy throughout, I found myself desperately wanting a positive resolution for Nuri and Afra. Becoming attached to characters is not something I often find with my usual Thriller genre, since it is more often the plot you become invested within. However, given the true-to-life narrative, I did find the characters to be a central aspect of the book. Depending on how the reader personally feels towards the characters could influence their overall perception of the novel.


In terms of being multidimensional, I feel both protagonists wear their heart on their sleeve in that sense. Throughout, you are well aware of where each character lies in terms of feelings and beliefs, thus eliminating any surprise changes of heart towards Nuri or Afra. Often in Thriller novels, I find my mind changing in how I warm to different characters as layers of their personality unfold, which can keep the book at a fast pace. Having said that, this lack of dimension does not make any character 'boring', but rather fosters the connection with the reader further and suits the naturalistic plot.


Writing style

In comparison to Where The Crawdads Sing, the writing style of this novel was nothing to shout from the rooftops about. Having said that, it suited the plot down to a tee. Descriptive writing was used in all the right places, allowing the reader to visualise the scenarios and bringing the narrative to life. This enabled further sympathy to be felt during the hardships of their journey, as well as hope felt when things began to look up. Additionally, some aspects to the story are better understood when paired with this descriptive language in order for the reader to discover the hidden twists and turns intertwined into the plot.


There was one, unique feature of the writing in the book I particularly enjoyed. In some chapters, the final word was the same as the first word of the next chapter. This word was emphasised and almost used as a title for the following chapter, setting the scene for the narrative. This often occurred when the tense was changed, which allowed the plot to flow better into the differing times and made it feel like a united story line.


Three words to describe this book

Thought provoking and powerful


Final comments

Although this book is a different style to my usual, I really enjoyed it. Spreading such a powerful message is extremely important in literature, especially challenging the ever-so-frequent news headlines by delving deeper into the true issues faced. Tragedy had undoubtedly struck the families involved, however their sheer hope and determination to not give up makes this novel a heartwarming, captivating read. Again, similar to said in my previous book review post, this book isn't particularly a page-turner in the sense that a fast-paced Thriller or Crime novel can be. Having said that, I still found myself desperate to reach the end and learn of how Nuri and Afra's story panned out. In my eyes, that desire to not put a book down is what demonstrates a really good read and is why I would highly recommend The Beekeeper of Aleppo.


Before reading this book, I had read that this book provides many similarities to 'The Tattooist of Auschwitz' by Heather Morris, a novel still firmly in my wish list to read. Therefore, anyone who has read and enjoyed Morris's book may also be a fan of Lefteri's writing and should be sure to give it a try.


Have you read this book? If so, what were your thoughts? Please let me know in the comments below!

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