A Hand Full of Stars

A Hand Full of Stars

4.0 2
by Rafik Schami
     
 

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Amid the turmoil of modern Damascus, one teenage boy finds his political voice in a message of rebellion that echoes throughout Syria and as far away as Western Europe. Inspired by his dearest friend, old Uncle Salim, he begins a journal to record his thoughts and impressions of family, friends, life at school, and his growing feelings for his girlfriend, Nadia.

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Overview

Amid the turmoil of modern Damascus, one teenage boy finds his political voice in a message of rebellion that echoes throughout Syria and as far away as Western Europe. Inspired by his dearest friend, old Uncle Salim, he begins a journal to record his thoughts and impressions of family, friends, life at school, and his growing feelings for his girlfriend, Nadia. Soon the hidden diary becomes more than just a way to remember his daily adventures; on its pages he explores his frustration with the government injustices he witnesses. His courage and ingenuity finally find an outlet when he and his friends begin a subversive underground newspaper. Warmed by a fine sense of humor, this novel is at once a moving love story and a passionate testimony to the difficult and committed actions being taken by young people around the world.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This unusual novel, written in the form of a diary, tells the story of four years in the life of a Damascan boy. When he begins his account, the narrator spends his days playing with his friends and dreaming of becoming a journalist. Like many American boys, the diarist worries about his schoolwork and his girlfriend, but he must also cope with difficulties unfamiliar to his American contemporaries. Military coups are frequent occurrences and many of the neighborhood men have been sent to jail on the slimmest of pretexts. Taken out of school to work in his father's bakery, the boy finds another way to pursue his ambition by starting an underground newspaper. This multifaceted work is at once a glimpse into a different culture, a plea for the right to free speech and a highly readable tale, as full of fun as it is of melancholy. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-- This well-told coming-of-age story uses a journal format to recount the 14th through 18th years in the unnamed narrator's life in contemporary Syria. Excelling at school, the boy is frustrated at having to work in his father's bakery. Feeding his intellectual hunger are Uncle Salim, a beloved, grandfatherly neighbor whose tales instruct, comfort, and entertain; and Habib, a wasted but honorable journalist. Friends Mahmud and Josef, girlfriend Nadia, and an interesting cast of minor characters provide important insights into the narrator's maturation. His love for Nadia grows from meaningful glances to sexual involvement. His dream of becoming a journalist blossoms into the daring undertaking of publishing an underground newspaper despite the very real dangers posed by the government. The ending will be perceived as upbeat by most adolescent readers--Habib will be released from jail, and the protagonist will marry Nadia, grow closer to his father, become a famous and respected journalist, etc. Other, unhappier futures, are perhaps more plausible. The translation lends an appealing accent to the voices, an exotic air to the settings. As Walter Dean Myers' early books portrayed Harlem as just another neighborhood in which to grow up, this book shows Damascus to be a place where teen readers can identify with characters and situations beyond their direct experience. Events slowly build the narrator's social and political understanding about government and police corruption, and he makes his own ethical choices. Emphasizing the power of the individual and of the written word, this book pushes the subject of censorship way beyond the usual YA problems with principals and graduation to matters of life and death. --Joel Shoemaker, Tilford Middle School, Vinton, IA

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781566568401
Publisher:
Interlink Publishing Group, Incorporated
Publication date:
05/20/2012
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
546,709
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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