Fleming’s account is as gripping as it is moving; yet as Doaa herself points out in an afterword, ‘it is only a small glimpse of the hardship and pain that refugees around the world endure.
In the hands of the right readers, it will change the minds of some Westerners about the intent and character of the foreign people who are streaming their way. . . . More than anything else, this is a testimonial to the very definition of heroism—when, that is, an ordinary person responds in extraordinary ways to extraordinary events.
Melissa Fleming’s tale of a young Syrian woman’s search for peace and safety is a book written for our times. On every page, loss and hope tangle. On every page, the human toll of the worst humanitarian crisis of our time is painfully, heartbreakingly brought home. This is an emotional read, at times painful, but it is above all a poignant tribute to hope, to resilience, and to the capacity for grace and generosity that dwells deep in the human heart.
Doaa’s incredible fight to live, one of only a few refugees to survive four days in a sea of corpses, is recounted by Melissa Fleming in her moving new book.
Written by an official in the United Nations’ refugee agency, this deeply affecting book recounts the story of a young Syrian, Doaa Al Zamel. . . . Fleming brings a moral urgency to the narrative.
Some books should be required reading. A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea is one of those books. Not simply because the tale of a Syrian refugee is so timely or the topic so important. But because of its lessons about persistence, selflessness, and hope, which are the heartbeat of this true story. . . . Consider this book a must-read for anyone looking to understand the lives and backstories of the millions of displaced persons currently seeking refuge in Europe and elsewhere. . . . For all of us tempted to quit when things get hard, or to lose hope when the landscape seems terrifyingly bleak, Doaa’s remarkable perseverance is a necessary and welcome rebuke. Her triumph proves that we are all capable of much more than we can imagine, and that our own commitment to courage can have an impact that reaches far beyond our individual lives.
In a few years, when people look back at our current time of conflicts, dislocation, and displacement, the story of Doaa Al Zamel—and of those she saw die, and of the new life she saved—will stand out as one of its defining narratives.
Stories like Doaa’s, presented in the form of excellent storytelling, thrilling surprises, and powerful characters, do have an impact. This is a must-read book for everyone who is debating the refugee crisis, because it boils the entire war in Syria down to one family, one young woman: Doaa.
Fleming deftly illustrates the pain of those who choose to leave Syria. . . . [She] recounts their narrative with compassion and without melodrama, and her book is ultimately a story of hope. . . . The message is to try to humanize one young woman, to tell her tale so that the migrant crisis does not become a bunch of nameless, faceless people fleeing a war but human beings with families, with needs, and with desires.”
I think Melissa Fleming is one of the most important people in the world. As the world’s foremost advocate for refugees, she has worked tirelessly to put a human face on the greatest crisis of our time. There is no more important calling than this. Millions have been displaced by the wars in Iraq and Syria, and their situation is desperate. Yet everyone who has worked with refugees is amazed by their resilience and spirit. There is no better way to demonstrate this spirit than with the power of a single story. Melissa has found that story. The story of Doaa is dramatic, riveting, and ultimately hopeful. A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea provides a portrait of the refugee crisis that cannot be matched by any amount of cable news coverage.
Doaa’s story takes place in the same world I live in, and it shook me to my core. No person fleeing persecution should have to die trying to reach safety. This is surely a book to be read to better understand what drives people to risk theirlives crossing the sea to Europe, pushing them even farther from their homeland after having already escaped the horrorsof war.
This poignant tale of survival and loss gives immediacy to the plight of Syrian refugees. In a spare, unobtrusive style, Fleming profiles Doaa Al Zamel, who as a teenager fled her homeland of Syria. Fleming’s skillful writing brings new vividness to Al Zamel’s dramatic story. . . . This book amply demonstrates why she has since become a symbol of hope for other refugees. Fleming should be congratulated for bringing Al Zamel’s inspiring and illuminating story to the page.”
While it is the story of so many Syrians, so many refugees, it is also the story of one woman, and as such it should enable us to see beyond the cold weight of the numbers and into an individual’s own warm and vivid story. . . . If A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea does push more people into action and solidarity, then it will have done vital work; the most important work, perhaps, that a book can do right now.”
We need hopeful stories more than ever, and this incredible real-life story about Doaa, a Syrian refugee, is one that willopen hearts.
Melissa and Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York) at a reading of A Hope More Powerful Than The Sea.