Reviews for Nujeen: One Girl's Incredible Journey from War-torn Syria in a Wheelchair, by Christina Lamb, Nujeen Mustafa

Reading With Erin's review
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Nujeen is one of those people that the world needs more of.
She talks about her life before they became refugees and we really get to see what has helped shaped her into the person she is now. How even though she wasn't able to do what her siblings were, she was still learning.
Did I ever think soap operas would help someone? No, but I am so glad now that they did. No matter how someone learns English or about the world doesn't matter, what does matter is that they do. That everyone has something they're good at and that it is important. Also because of the way she learned things about the world, she was also able to help her family when it came to getting into other countries.
As a fellow wheelchair user, it's always been a question for me of how do you escape when handicap accessible transportation isn't available? The ways that her sister and some of their family members just modified things on the fly and didn't even bat an eye was so nice to see. It was still scary, but the strength that her sister had and the fact that she was also able to stay calm during it all was amazing.

One last thing that I really liked about this book was how Nujeen doesn't just talk about how they escaped, she also brings other people into it as well, and really talks about the crisis that happened and caused them all to have to escape. She's using her voice for so much good and I can't wait to keep learning more about her and seeing what she does in the future!

Nickimags 's review
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An amazing account which is extremely hard to review because it's still an ongoing heart breaking situation in the world today. Give Nujeen, her sister and others like them your time and discover what a living nightmare they've been living through for the last five years.

Heather R's review
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"Prize-winning journalist and the co-author of smash New York Times bestseller I Am Malala, Christina Lamb, now tells the inspiring true story of another remarkable young hero: Nujeen Mustafa, a teenager born with cerebral palsy, whose harrowing journey from war-ravaged Syria to Germany in a wheelchair is a breathtaking tale of fortitude, grit, and hope that lends a face to the greatest humanitarian issue of our time, the Syrian refugee crisis.
For millions around the globe, sixteen-year-old Nujeen Mustafa embodies the best of the human spirit. Confined to a wheelchair because of her cerebral palsy and denied formal schooling in Syria because of her illness, Nujeen taught herself English by watching American soap operas. When her small town became the epicenter of the brutal fight between ISIS militants and US-backed Kurdish troops in 2014, she and her family were forced to flee."

I finished this audiobook a few days ago just as the news was coming out about the Syrian government retaking Aleppo.  If you don't have a good understanding of the causes of the conflict in Syria or the history of the Kurds, read this book.

Nujeen's family was well off.  Her siblings are all older than she is.  One is a director living in Germany.  The rest were university students or graduates.  She was unable to go to school because of her cerebral palsy.  They lived in a fifth floor apartment with no elevator so she almost never left the house.  She learned by watching TV.  She is very smart.  She taught herself English by watching Days of Our Lives.

When the rebellion against Assad started, life didn't change too much for her family.  They didn't think it would because they lived in such a safe city - Aleppo.  Her sister joined in the protests at her university until the regime's response became too violent.  Eventually they moved to their other house in Manbij.

They got used to the hardships.  When her brother visited from Germany, he was horrified at their living conditions and what they were now accepting as normal.  They started to make plans to leave.

Her insistence that live didn't change that much for them and that no one thought that anything bad could happen in a city as safe as Aleppo was upsetting.  I kept thinking that someday we'll be telling this story about the U.S.  I had to sit this audiobook aside for a bit because it was making me really depressed.  I listened to it on the way to work one morning and was on the verge of tears all day.  I finished it by listening to it in large sections on the way to and from large family gatherings so I didn't have time to dwell as soon as I finished listening.
"We will just be numbers while the tyrant is engraved in history."  Nujeen wondering why history only remembers the names of the dictators and not their victims.


The family first left for Turkey and then the children headed on to Europe.  I would love to hear this story from her sister Nasreen's perspective.  Nujeen was a teenager who had never left the house.  Nasreen was in charge of her.  It sounds like she drove poor Nasreen to distraction with her excitement about being out in the world.  Nasreen was trying to get them through hostile countries and Nujeen was bubbling over with how exciting it all was.  She did realize that there were times that Nasreen just wanted her to shut up.

They went through Turkey and then took an inflatable boat illegally to Greece.  Whether or not to take her wheelchair on the boat was a major point of contention.  They made the trip on the same day as three-year-old Aylan Kurdi drowned trying the trip from farther down the coast.  From there they moved country to country to Germany to meet their brother just as the countries in Europe were starting to close their borders to refugees.

Nujeen talks about how her status as an English speaking refugee in a wheelchair led to a lot of interviews.  One of them made its way into this John Oliver piece.

I enjoyed Nujeen's story because she is a very smart and very sassy teenager.  That comes through in the writing.  She's funny.  I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to put a human face on the humanitarian crisis.This review was originally posted on Based On A True Story

MysteryBuff's review
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I want to put this book into the hands of every politician on the planet. Nujeen is the face and spirit of Syrians forced out of their homes. The abuse and obstacles she and her sister faced as they met barrier after barrier in their search for peace and rest.

Let us show that we can learn from our mistakes and that we can take pride in doing the right thing, which is seeing refugees as people with the right to live anywhere they want.


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