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A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea (Young Readers' Edition): The Journey of Doaa Al Zamel: One Teen Refugee's Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival

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The extraordinary true story of one teen refugee’s quest to find a new life—now adapted for young readers A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea tells the story of Doaa Al-Zamel, a Syrian girl whose life was upended in 2011 by her country’s brutal civil war. She and her family escape to Egypt, but life soon quickly becomes dangerous for Syrians in that country. Doaa and her fian The extraordinary true story of one teen refugee’s quest to find a new life—now adapted for young readers A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea tells the story of Doaa Al-Zamel, a Syrian girl whose life was upended in 2011 by her country’s brutal civil war. She and her family escape to Egypt, but life soon quickly becomes dangerous for Syrians in that country. Doaa and her fiancé decide to flee to Europe to seek safety and an education, but four days after setting sail on a smuggler’s dilapidated fishing vessel along with five hundred other refugees, their boat is struck and begins to sink... Doaa’s eye-opening story, as told by Melissa Fleming, represents the millions of unheard voices of refugees who risk everything in a desperate search for a safe future.


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The extraordinary true story of one teen refugee’s quest to find a new life—now adapted for young readers A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea tells the story of Doaa Al-Zamel, a Syrian girl whose life was upended in 2011 by her country’s brutal civil war. She and her family escape to Egypt, but life soon quickly becomes dangerous for Syrians in that country. Doaa and her fian The extraordinary true story of one teen refugee’s quest to find a new life—now adapted for young readers A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea tells the story of Doaa Al-Zamel, a Syrian girl whose life was upended in 2011 by her country’s brutal civil war. She and her family escape to Egypt, but life soon quickly becomes dangerous for Syrians in that country. Doaa and her fiancé decide to flee to Europe to seek safety and an education, but four days after setting sail on a smuggler’s dilapidated fishing vessel along with five hundred other refugees, their boat is struck and begins to sink... Doaa’s eye-opening story, as told by Melissa Fleming, represents the millions of unheard voices of refugees who risk everything in a desperate search for a safe future.

30 review for A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea (Young Readers' Edition): The Journey of Doaa Al Zamel: One Teen Refugee's Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ceren Ayar

    Family is more important than money

  2. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    ** spoilers ** Enjoyed I think it will lose the kids in lengthy descriptions an purchase young readers edition for middle school story: A Hope More Powerful than the Sea Fear of water Near drown Thousands killed over political disagreements Traditional gender roles Society Prefers sons Expected to find new wife so can have a son Family lives together in one home - can have 30+ people in a home Father arrested for transporting too much and factory gave him forged papers In bad prison for four months Move a few ** spoilers ** Enjoyed I think it will lose the kids in lengthy descriptions an purchase young readers edition for middle school story: A Hope More Powerful than the Sea Fear of water Near drown Thousands killed over political disagreements Traditional gender roles Society Prefers sons Expected to find new wife so can have a son Family lives together in one home - can have 30+ people in a home Father arrested for transporting too much and factory gave him forged papers In bad prison for four months Move a few times, hard to open up in new community Doaa wants more than a traditional female life In Tunisia, a street vendor set himself on fire, 20 Is this the same as the event I. dancing on the Roofs? Great vocab Repressive rulers and government Countries around Syria were overthrown Boys painted graffiti on school and were arrested Much protesting, sit in outside mosque and protestors were shot Syrian war, 250,000 killed, 5 mil refugees abroad, 6.5mil displaced in country, 26 Boys were returned, had been tortured Police station on fire, taxi drops the family off because he is too scared to keep going Another peaceful protest when police shoot into protesters Further torture of boys detailed Doaa throw tear gas canisters back at security forces and to cause distractions Doaa becomes protestor Government misleads Some girls who were arrested were raped in front of parents Tanks, fear of many deaths as happened during previous ruler Power and water cut Family can’t leave home Gunshots at all hours Tanks run into houses People pulled Dad makes girls sleep in abayas so they are covered during raids and must keep a knife Girls agree to kill selves if they are raped because they can’t live with the shame Doaa always pushing bounds with parents and putting them in dangers way Help a man from the free Syrian army Many people killed Pregnant woman died and then shot in belly Bombings begin Girls nearly killed when getting bread Dad’s shop hit by missile so he can no longer work Chain smoking Lance eye with sty Bitch Men try to get Doaa People tortured n the park at night Other girls taken Man killed and thrown in dumpster Family decide to leave Syria for Egypt 80 Sometimes instead of being strong, Doaa seems to me to be bratty and whiny, she has to have her own way with no regard to others Older sister stayed behind with her husband By 2016, Syrians would become the largest displaced population in the world, 84 Not enough money to cross the border As the war went on, it was difficult and impossible to cross the border, Doaas family was very lucky Five hour ferry ride with no problem Writing is so-so, slow moving, too many details and words Family was part of the first wave of refugees Within a year there were so many refugees that it was difficult or impossible to support oneself by working odd jobs Doaa feels responsibility for Family, feels she must help and protect them Dad depression The two girls begin working out ages 15 and 17 to support Family, they sew burlap bags from early morning till late at night, nothing to eat during the day Doaa gets marriage proposals but she is not interested Been three daughters get sewing work for $50 each per month, more than they were making with the burlap bags Pay wasn’t as expected because of mysterious deductions Everyone and Egypt was incredibly welcoming of the refugees Egyptian leader overthrown and then people’s opinion of Syrian refugees tanked, people no longer wanted the Syrian refugees there Sexual-harassment of Serien woman Me and wants to Marry doaa, He is obsessed with her, becomes friends with her mom and mom takes her side, all of her family takes his side, he threatens to kill himself if she won’t marry him Mom then get sick because she was so worried about the situation with this boy, the boy says he’s going to go back to Syria and help us fight if doaa won’t marry him, ugh!! Then she realized that she didn’t want him to leave so she accepted his proposal Another man tries to take doaa Man threatens that if any Syrian kids go to school then they will be sent back to their parents in pieces, 142 Chemical weapon attack Pressured to have smugglers take them on ferry to Europe Doaa decides to go to Europe with Bassem That year already >2000 immigrants lost life in smugglers boats Smuggler charges $5000 Smugglers set up 1/2 of refugees to be caught Doaa and bassem get away Luggage stolen by police 10 days in prison for leaving county illegally Another failed attempt and 10 more days in prison Bought fake life jackets Smugglers took SIM cards and all Egyptian money Police shooting at boat Four days travel, switch boats five times Mans fingers cut off when boats crash during switch Boat of Egyptians purposefully crashes refugee boat to kill them Boat sinks Many dead in water Dismembered by propellor blades Everyone die from cold or exhaustion A grandp gives his granddaughter to doaa because he is too tired Bassem dies Everyone continues to die In that year, commercial ships saved 40,000 Almost500 people had died One of the babies died Was in the water four days Baby had to live in orphanage for year while uncles claim to her was verified. Threats against mom and sisters Nightmares of time in water Family granted resettlement in Sweden

  3. 4 out of 5

    Amy Smart

    What a powerful book. It hits even harder when you realize that everything in this story ACTUALLY happened, and not that long ago. I am not much older than Doaa, and the majority of events in this story happened while I was safe at college in Canada, not even sure what the Syrian Refugee Crisis was, while she was fighting for her life. If you want to gain a deeper understanding of the tragedy of the Syrian Refugee Crisis, read this book! Thank you, Doaa, for allowing your story to be told ❤️

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. SPOILER ALERT! I think this book was conceived as a way to give a huge amount of information in a way that is easy to digest for almost anyone, and in that sense, it totally fulfilled its mission. The author decided to focus on a single person and her family rather than maintain a detached or impersonal account of this situation afflicting and affecting millions right at this moment. I think a book like this should be mandatory reading for school children, along with The Diary of Anne Frank, beca SPOILER ALERT! I think this book was conceived as a way to give a huge amount of information in a way that is easy to digest for almost anyone, and in that sense, it totally fulfilled its mission. The author decided to focus on a single person and her family rather than maintain a detached or impersonal account of this situation afflicting and affecting millions right at this moment. I think a book like this should be mandatory reading for school children, along with The Diary of Anne Frank, because it shares some of the same qualities of accessibility. It is the real life story of an average Syrian girl, someone who could have been anyone’s daughter, friend or neighbour, showing the various steps that brought her to having been only one of the eleven survivors of a ship of 500 persons being trafficked out of Egypt due to impossible situations in their home country (the majority were Syrians and Palestinians) or the turmoil and violence they began facing in the country that hosted them already as refugees. We are introduced to an ordinary girl, in the sense of her being typical, not politically involved, not being rebellious, having a normal social life, a likeable girl with a nice family and yet, struggling for many years with a difficult life due to the increasing poverty of her family. The book sets the scene very well and we understand fully why and how people would protest such a situation they were in, and just how the protests were quelled by blood and siege by a regime that would rather have them dead than listen to any of their demands. The military siege of her city and the brutality of the snipers were described very well, as were the attitudes of the people, the hope and the fear. Brushes with death were constant, women and children were also unsafe as they were sniped at just for going to get bread or visit a grave, then, the bombing of their city started. The book continues to explain how the extended family was torn apart for reasons of safety and there are harrowing trips where often merely dumb luck is what makes the difference between life and death. If you were lucky enough to have some money and the right person to bribe at the right place, maybe you would survive. If not, there was no organisation anywhere in the world that would save you or intervene. And here is where it begins to be even more depressing. Fleming (the author) works for communications for the UNHCR, so her job is to render the situation of refugees public, but you notice over and over and over again, that the UN and the UNHCR are criminally absent almost everywhere. At borders, at towns in siege, at any kind of structure to assist people, except after they are already in Europe, where it is unable to relocate them somewhere most of the time and keep them in horrible limbos. They simply did not exist even when the amount of internally displaced people in Syria was in the millions. People were going without food and water for days on end, there seemed to be the rule of “fend for yourselves”, and of course, that also meant that while you lost everything you owned and would never get it back, there was no safety net out there that would let you do anything but sink further down or risk your life over and over again. So, I ask, what gives the author the moral authority to tell this story when her org was unable to actively prevent or come to aid in any of the events she illustrates for us? I understand that she feels that raising awareness in the telling of this story will help the refugees, but in practice, does it? Has it? Has anything changed in a meaningful way for the millions who cannot get a legal way out of their country in war and who are prey to traffickers of the worst kind? Is the human trafficking over? Have Humanitarian corridors opened for these people? No. Absolutely not. All the while reading this, I was filling with anger at how teens, even children, were forced into fending for themselves day after day, or die. It’s not as if the world did not know what was going on. It’s not as if the UN did not witness all of this. Then, there is the horrible, although the world horrible is an understatement, experience at the hands of the human traffickers. My heart was breaking over and over, knowing so many people and having so many friends who made this same voyage, who left Syria, found an initial warm welcome in Egypt that quickly turned to violence against them when the ASAF staged a coup to oust Morsi, then… into the hands of traffickers, whose cruelty is well known, but when you read it described in such detail of how some decided to sink 500 people, because they had their money… the anger and the pain of all of this flows directly to the surface and you ask, “what is the world and the UN doing to make passage safe and legal? NOTHING!” The book is totally worthwhile (the best part being the pages written directly by Doaa, and if she had the desire to write, I am sure she would be amazingly powerful) until it gets into the last pages where the author Fleming explains how the book came about and it almost becomes a patting on the back of her organisation! Then there is a brief interview with the creator of Humans of New York who, incredibly, says something that is totally not fact checked because he talks of someone being put in prison because suspected of being with the regime… when only the regime has prisons in Syria…

  5. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Years ago, I read the book Enrique's Journey: The Story of a Boy's Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with His Mother and was so moved by it that I actually reached out to the author via email to tell her how affected I was by the story. I am having a similar experience right now: I feel so helpless, and so distraught, by this young woman's story that I have to think of some way to help. My wife and I are supporters of the International Rescue Committee (www.rescue.org)but that hardly seems sufficient Years ago, I read the book Enrique's Journey: The Story of a Boy's Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with His Mother and was so moved by it that I actually reached out to the author via email to tell her how affected I was by the story. I am having a similar experience right now: I feel so helpless, and so distraught, by this young woman's story that I have to think of some way to help. My wife and I are supporters of the International Rescue Committee (www.rescue.org)but that hardly seems sufficient in the face of the suffering of tens of millions of refugees around the world. I, literally, can't imagine being driven from my home and forced to make my way in a world as hostile as ours all while trying to figure out where we should go, how we should get there, and what we'll do once we've arrived. This poor young woman--19 years old from a very sheltered, traditional Muslim family in Syria--tried to make it from Egypt to Italy in a boat filled with 500 other refugees. The boat was purposefully sunk, and she ended up in the water for four days, desperately trying to keep to babies alive as everyone else around her died. Of the 500 people on the boat, fewer than 10 survived. It is difficult for me to understand how or why human suffering doesn't move other people. I don't know how you can be a human being who hears these stories and isn't prompted to do something, anything, to help. All I feel is compassion for the suffering of the tens of millions of men, women, and children who are in desperate need of aid, all around the world. There are more refugees now than at any other time in human history, including after WWII, when Europe was reduced to smoldering rubble. 70 million displaced people. 70 million. Try and get your head around that number. Because of our current leadership, and quite frankly, because of a good number of Americans, we are not currently accepting anything more than a trickle of refugees. It is shameful that in a country as rich and prosperous as this one--not to mention one with declining birthrates--we are not doing more to help those who have been displaced by war, famine, and natural disaster. All of this just breaks my heart.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Valerie McEnroe

    Adult rating: 5 stars Kid rating: 3 stars This is an excellent young readers' edition of a book in the same vein as[ book: I am Malala]. Good choice for women's history month. An easy sell for young adults, because the narration is so good, but not sure if middle grades have the attention or interest to see it through. Doaa is living in southern Syria in the early 2010's when Al-Assad begins his tyranny against his own people. Once the Arab spring gets underway in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, Syria fa Adult rating: 5 stars Kid rating: 3 stars This is an excellent young readers' edition of a book in the same vein as[ book: I am Malala]. Good choice for women's history month. An easy sell for young adults, because the narration is so good, but not sure if middle grades have the attention or interest to see it through. Doaa is living in southern Syria in the early 2010's when Al-Assad begins his tyranny against his own people. Once the Arab spring gets underway in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, Syria falls in line too. The people begin demonstrating against an oppressive government. Doaa is one of many daughters in a loving family. As typical with middle Eastern families, they are religious and gather often for family celebrations. Doaa is an independent thinker and participates in the demonstrations. When Assad sends an army to quell the unrest, she is a teenager. Eventually, the devastation reaches the point where her family must flee Syria. They flee south through Jordan, then over to Egypt. At first Egyptians are accepting of the refugees, but slowly begin to regard them as a problem. Doaa attracts the attention of a suitor, who pursues her and refuses to give up when she rejects him. Finally, she sees him for the rare catch he is and they get engaged. He convinces her that the only hope for a good life is in Europe. Though she is terrified of crossing the Mediterranean Sea she agrees to go. It is the wrong choice to make. Melissa Fleming captures every minute detail of Doaa's story. It's remarkable. It's nonfiction that reads like fiction. Anyone, including adults, who want a first-hand, detailed account of what that journey across the Mediterranean Sea is like, should read this book. Doaa's will to survive against the odds is both uplifting and sad. Highly recommend.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Histteach24

    I previewed this book for a class library. Definitely worth purchasing for schools. The story is one that needs to be told. It brings light to a still timely situation of the plight of refugees and dispels myths about who they are and why they seek asylum. It also lends to important conversation about human nature, empathy, and what makes some people respond with kindness versus others who respond which such hate. Throughout history the plight of the refugee has existed-just a different ethnic or I previewed this book for a class library. Definitely worth purchasing for schools. The story is one that needs to be told. It brings light to a still timely situation of the plight of refugees and dispels myths about who they are and why they seek asylum. It also lends to important conversation about human nature, empathy, and what makes some people respond with kindness versus others who respond which such hate. Throughout history the plight of the refugee has existed-just a different ethnic or religious group and a different landscape. How is it that even after the horrors of WWII we can not seem to get our act together in creating a climate of stability and human decency? I read the youth version so the writing to me seemed simplistic. I don't know if reading the adult one would have been more sophisticated in writing style or added to the story. I also could not tell if translation led to the very choppy feel of the wording. Long story short, its rudimentary writing led me to be able to skim read quickly through the book. In the beginning, it was difficult to relate to Doaa because of it and I felt like details or information were missing in her early story.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Susan Schutte

    I teach high school and some of my students have been displaced by hurricanes and other natural disasters, but recently, I learned the story of one of my students that immigrated from Yemen. Like Doaa, he fled his homeland and traveled by boat with livestock in hopes of a better future. This book brought his story into reality for me. Doaa’s harrowing journey was undoubtedly worse, but no child, no person deserves such a fate. This book is an accessible read with important information about the I teach high school and some of my students have been displaced by hurricanes and other natural disasters, but recently, I learned the story of one of my students that immigrated from Yemen. Like Doaa, he fled his homeland and traveled by boat with livestock in hopes of a better future. This book brought his story into reality for me. Doaa’s harrowing journey was undoubtedly worse, but no child, no person deserves such a fate. This book is an accessible read with important information about the people who suffer in war torn countries.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    This is a sobering account of one woman, Doaa Al Zamel's experience living in Syria at the outbreak of the Syrian War. Doaa's family relocates as refugees to Egypt for several years. As time goes on, it becomes clear that a future in Egypt is bleak for her and her fiancé, so they entrust the help of smugglers to provide passage from Egypt to Greece via a crammed fishing boat. The journey is perilous and unfathomably horrific, yet Doaa lives to tell her heroic, brave, inspiring story. It ends up This is a sobering account of one woman, Doaa Al Zamel's experience living in Syria at the outbreak of the Syrian War. Doaa's family relocates as refugees to Egypt for several years. As time goes on, it becomes clear that a future in Egypt is bleak for her and her fiancé, so they entrust the help of smugglers to provide passage from Egypt to Greece via a crammed fishing boat. The journey is perilous and unfathomably horrific, yet Doaa lives to tell her heroic, brave, inspiring story. It ends up being a story of hope and the will to carry on in the face of the most dire of circumstances.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    heartbreaking yet uplifting story, so much so that it’s hard to believe it’s nonfiction. in one word: powerful. it was one of those books where you know how it will end but keep reading anyway. there were so many important lessons for all the young (and old) readers out there. my only qualm was that i found fleming’s narration to be a bit telling and redundant at times; however, she’s not an author as a primary profession, and she was sharing doaa’s story, which so desperately needed to be heard heartbreaking yet uplifting story, so much so that it’s hard to believe it’s nonfiction. in one word: powerful. it was one of those books where you know how it will end but keep reading anyway. there were so many important lessons for all the young (and old) readers out there. my only qualm was that i found fleming’s narration to be a bit telling and redundant at times; however, she’s not an author as a primary profession, and she was sharing doaa’s story, which so desperately needed to be heard.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Joan Ling-Zwissler

    I purchased this at a discount at a book fair to vet for my middle school students. Although I found the writing to be stylistically a bit rough and not engaging, Doaa's story is compelling and inspiring enough to keep me reading to the end. I purchased this at a discount at a book fair to vet for my middle school students. Although I found the writing to be stylistically a bit rough and not engaging, Doaa's story is compelling and inspiring enough to keep me reading to the end.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Polly

    Very compelling and hard to put down. I wish everyone would read these accounts and allow more humanity in to what has been watered down to political talking points. This is a heart wrenching story.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Josh Smith

    My heart aches for Doaa and her family. The way her story was told, however, left something to be desired. As a story, it’s heartbreaking and wonderful; as a book, it didn’t hold my attention more than a few pages at a time. Kind of a slog.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Michele

    Better as a TED talk.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    Doaa's story is amazing, but this book was just not well-written and dragged quite a bit :( Doaa's story is amazing, but this book was just not well-written and dragged quite a bit :(

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kayleigh

    Absolutely humbling and important read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cyndy Hagin

    Eye opening.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Susan Taylor

    When we hear of the Syrian crisis, it almost seems unfathomable. Doaa's story makes this very real and yet, still so difficult to believe. When we hear of the Syrian crisis, it almost seems unfathomable. Doaa's story makes this very real and yet, still so difficult to believe.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Leslie Poulos

    Powerful story that helps to explain the context for so many Syrians who have been displaced as well as highlights an individual's harrowing journey. Heartbreaking. Powerful story that helps to explain the context for so many Syrians who have been displaced as well as highlights an individual's harrowing journey. Heartbreaking.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Chyann

    An incredibly important story. This is a great choice for young readers who have read historical fiction pieces like Refugee by Alan Gratz, but it will definitely be a challenge.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Caroline Miller

    This is one of the craziest stories I have ever read, it will stay with you forever.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Joe

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jody

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jenni

  26. 5 out of 5

    Anoushka Manica

  27. 5 out of 5

    AnneMarie Zammit Pawley

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sumer Panza

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kiki

  30. 4 out of 5

    Janet

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