Saturday, January 5, 2013
A Game for Swallows: To Die, To Leave, To Return by Zeina Abirached
It amazing how things can just become part of everyday life. The fact that there were snipers hiding at the end of your street, and you have to walk a certain way so you won't get hit. The fact that bombings are any everyday occurrence, and sometimes people die, or your home gets destroyed. That it takes hours to get a dial tone on the phone, that you can't go near windows, that you wait on long lines for gas. And somehow there's still the belief that it's "more or less safe" there. Because it's home, and that's how things have always been.
The foyer of Zeina's apartment is the safest place in the apartment building, so usually all the other tenants make their way down to them during heavy bombing. Zeina's parents are not there, having gone to visit her grandparents. But they left an hour ago, and haven't shown up yet. All through the night, the tenants and children find ways to amuse themselves. The adults also show differing opinions on what course of action should be taken in regards to the war. Fight, leave, wait.
That evening, a shell lands in what was Zeina's bedroom, and the next day everyone has to find new places to go. A few leave Lebanon, but most find other people to stay with. Despite the constant danger, most do not seriously think about leaving.
The illustrations are striking. Done in black and white, the pictures are deceptively simple. The first few pages are of the streets, and it took me a minute to realize that there were bullet holes everywhere. It just kind of blends in. The style reminded me a lot of Persepolis.
Much like Little White Duck, this is another excellent middle grade level book that allows young people to see what life is like for children growing up outside of the United States.