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A hope more powerful than the sea : one refugee's incredible story of love, loss, and survival
2017
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Recounts the powerful experiences of Syrian refugee Doaa Zamel, who was cast adrift in a frigid sea with the children of drowned parents after their dangerously overcrowded ship sank, in an account that details what their experiences reveal about an ongoing international crisis. - (Baker & Taylor)

"Urgently required reading." People
"Deeply affecting... Fleming brings a moral urgency to the narrative." —The New Yorker
"Fleming deftly illustrates the pain of those who choose to leave Syria...and her book is ultimately a story of hope." —Newsweek

The stunning story of a young woman, an international crisis, and the triumph of the human spirit.

Adrift in a frigid sea, no land in sight, just debris from the ship's wreckage and floating corpses all around, nineteen-year-old Doaa Al Zamel stays afloat on a small inflatable ring and clutches two little girls—barely toddlers—to her body. The children had been thrust into Doaa's arms by their drowning relatives, all refugees who boarded a dangerously overcrowded ship bound for Italy and a new life. For days as Doaa drifts, she prays for rescue and sings to the babies in her arms. She must stay alive for them. She must not lose hope.

A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea chronicles the life of Doaa, a Syrian girl whose life was upended in 2011 by the onset of her country's brutal civil war. Doaa and her fiance, Bassem, 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. This is the moment when Doaa's struggle for survival really begins.

This emotionally charged, eye-opening true story that represents the millions of unheard voices of refugees who risk everything in a desperate search for the promise of a safe future. In the midst of the most pressing international humanitarian crisis of our time, Melissa Fleming paints a vivid, unforgettable portrait of the triumph of the human spirit.

- (McMillan Palgrave)

An extraordinary portrait of the hope and courage that enabled a young refugee to find a new life. - (McMillan Palgrave)

Author Biography

MELISSA FLEMING is chief spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). She travels to war zones and refugee camps to give voice to the millions of people forcibly displaced from their homes. She is frequently quoted in international media, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, and NPR. She first told Doaa's story on the TED stage and her talks are featured on TED.com. - (McMillan Palgrave)

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Kirkus Reviews

A Syrian refugee's perilous journey to the West. The subject of an earlier TED talk by Fleming, the head of communications and chief spokesperson for the United High Commissioner for Refugees, Doaa Al Zamel was not yet 20 when she was driven from her homeland by civil war and a brutal government campaign against her rebel region. The numbers, as the author cites them, are daunting and the odds very much against Doaa: more than 5 million Syrians forced to flee abroad, many more than that made internal refugees in their own country. Doaa left with the vaguely formed idea of making her way to asylum in Europe. In the hands of smugglers, beset by rough seas and pirates, she survived a horrific shipwreck, so far among the deadliest in the annals of illegal migration from Africa to Europe, with more than 500 victims. She also saved the life of a toddler, earning awards from humanitarian agencies and calling renewed attention to the plight of refugees from Syria. Finally resettled i n Sweden, Doaa's story is one of the few refugee tales so far to have anything approaching a happy ending, making Fleming's narrative an aspirational if perhaps unusual one. As for Doaa herself, who closes the book with a brief statement, she aspires "one day…to return to Syria so I can breathe again." Fleming's competently written book has modest value as an expanded record of a story already widely reported. 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, though it is hard to imagine it altering the policy of, say, a Republican governor in the Midwest. 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. Copyright Kirkus 2016 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews

Chief spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Fleming tells the story of Doaa Zamel, winner of the OPEC Fund Annual Award for International Development, who survived the horrendous September 2014 Mediterranean shipwreck that claimed almost 500 lives.

[Page 62]. (c) Copyright 2016 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

PW Annex Reviews

This poignant tale of survival and loss gives immediacy to the plight of Syrian refugees. In a spare, unobtrusive style, Fleming, head of communications for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 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, already well known from media accounts. The book provides a quick sketch of Syria's complex civil war, which erupted in 2011, making it critical for Al Zamel's family to escape to Egypt. There, she married another displaced Syrian, and in 2014 they sold their remaining valuables to pay smugglers to take them across the Mediterranean. "It is better to have a quick death in the sea than a slow death in Egypt," she reasoned. Conditions on the decrepit ship became deadly when they were rammed by another boat. Floating on a plastic inflatable ring, Al Zamel survived the ordeal and saved the life of a small child, but suffered the heartbreak of seeing her husband die. 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. Agent: Mollie Glick, Creative Artists Agency. (Jan.) Copyright 2016 Publisher Weekly Annex.

Table of Contents

One A Childhood in Syria
1(20)
Two The War Begins
21(29)
Three The Siege of Daraa
50(31)
Four Life as a Refugee
81(24)
Five Love in Exile
105(23)
Six The Engagement
128(15)
Seven Deal with the Devil
143(31)
Eight Ship of Horrors
174(17)
Nine All That Is Left Is the Sea
191(29)
Ten Rescue at the Dying Hour
220(33)
Epilogue 253
A Note from Doaa 261(2)
Author's Note 263

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