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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Reader's Diary #1687- Samya Kullab, Jackie Roche, and Mike Freiheit: Escape from Syria

I don't know where one would have to live in the world right now not to have heard about the troubles in Syria and the plight of the millions of displaced Syrians. Canada too has done a share of welcoming refugees.

Still, unless you've encountered the Syrian immigrants, it's hard sometimes to put a face on the tragedy. It's news. Something that happens to other people.

Samya Kullab's Escape from Syria helps personalize the crisis, following one specific family. It is probably best aimed at mature juveniles, teens, and adults, as she doesn't shy away from the violent images when they are necessary. There's an explosion on the very second page. There are heads on spikes later.

It follows a family first as they escape to Lebanon and try to gain some semblance of normalcy. The country is over-burdened however and their efforts begin to look in vain. They are a resistant sort however and eventually they get sponsored to come to Canada. They are worried that the culture shock will be too much and that they will not be accepted.

Kullab offers a very balanced picture, perhaps owing to her journalism background, and any sentimentality comes across as genuine, unforced.

The art is deceivingly simple. I was first reminded of old Sunday school comics. However, artistic touches help elevate the tale. I especially like the use of repetition to hit home points. In one scene for example, Amina the teenage daughter is studying. Her position on the floor with a book in front doesn't change while her family enters and leaves in the background across several panels. In one, they have placed a blanket over her as the night has grown cold.

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