Homes: A Refugee Story

by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah with Winnie Yeung

May 1, 2018
4.5 x 7, paper, 220 pages
978-1-988298-28-3
CDN/US $19.95

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One boy’s true story, both heartbreaking and hopeful, of living through the Syrian civil war and immigrating to Canada.

In 2010, the al Rabeeah family left their home in Iraq in hope of a safer life. They moved to Homs, in Syria — just before the Syrian civil war broke out.

Abu Bakr, one of eight children, was ten years old when the violence began on the streets around him: car bombings, attacks on his mosque and school, firebombs late at night. Homes tells of the strange juxtapositions of growing up in a war zone: horrific, unimaginable events punctuated by normalcy — soccer, cousins, video games, friends.

Homes is the remarkable true story of how a young boy emerged from a war zone — and found safety in Canada — with a passion for sharing his story and telling the world what is truly happening in Syria. As told to her by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah, writer Winnie Yeung has crafted a heartbreaking, hopeful, and urgently necessary book that provides a window into understanding Syria.

Advance praise for Homes

“From a safe distance, the violence of the Syrian civil war is too vast and grotesque to grasp. How does one comprehend the deaths of 500,000 people, after all? Homes grants readers an intimate view of the war through the eyes of a ten-year-old boy as he struggles to play, pray, and survive as his world collapses around him. Homes stands as one of those rare books that manages to find humanity in the inhumane and, in the end, says more about love than war.”
— Marcello di Cintio, winner of the Shaughnessy Cohen Award for Political Writing for Walls: Travels Along the Barricades

“This charming and warm-hearted book is a refugee story like no other. A captivating read.”
— Deborah Campbell, winner of the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Award for Non-Fiction for A Disappearance in Damascus

“Abu Bakr al Rabeeah is brave, his family are brave, and Homes is a compelling, honest chronicle of one harrowing journey across collapsing nation-states. Winnie Yeung does a fine job bringing out the humanity in this — and by extension, every other — refugee tale.”
— Charles Foran, author of Mordecai: The Life and Times

Reviews and interviews

“[Bakr] wants people to know that their family is not defined by war. He had a traumatic childhood, but also a happy one. He witnessed car bombs, but he loved to play soccer. He had to start over again in a new country, but he has his family and his future.” Consumed by Ink, April 24, 2018.

“In Yeung’s skilled hands, this memoir comes to life with immediacy, detail, and sensitivity . . . At a time when many refugee children and families are settling in all parts of Canada, Abu Bakr’s story will build empathy and understanding. Homes: A Refugee Story illuminates the efforts of children and families to live normal, peaceful lives in the midst of warfare and terrorism. For non Muslim readers, it depicts a boy and his extended family’s experience and practice of a faith tradition that is poorly understood by many in the western hemisphere and Europe. Highly recommended.” CM: Canadian Review of Materials, March 23, 2018.

“Edmonton teacher helps refugee tell his story,” CBC News Edmonton.

“Refugee student, Edmonton teacher find a novel in his experience fleeing Iraq and Syria,” National Post.

“Edmonton teacher tells her refugee student’s story in Homes,” Edmonton Journal.