SISTERS OF THE WAR by Rania Abouzeid is a non-fiction narrative about the horrific tragedies in Syria. It focuses on two girls, Ruha and Hanin, and their families who experience deep loss and painful experiences over years of war and as refugees. Abouzeid’s detailed reporting is highly informative, and while the true stories are painful and upsetting, they are appropriate for ages 12+. The story-telling style is dense and told for sharing information, so it’s not necessarily engaging for the reader. Some may find the audiobook easier to listen to than to read from a hard copy.
I suggest starting Sisters of the War at the end by reading the short Author’s Note. Abouzeid explains her technique and methodology, and the dangers she faced. Starting with the Author’s Note also allows readers to delve into the stories with some basic background for what to expect since, sadly, much of what the book shares will be new to American and most western readers. The writing tells the story of Ruha, Hanin, and their families, but it also gets into the harsh grittiness and danger of living in a war zone for years. At times, the amount of information makes it difficult to wade through the detail with any complete understanding.
While there are descriptions of injury and death, the many heart-wrending instances of mental anguish and shattering loss are what will likely make the most impact. In addition, Abouzeid’s work in sharing the perspectives of doctors and refugee workers are deeply affecting. SISTERS OF THE WAR is highly recommended for its important perspective, but ideally, it should be read together with the audiobook for greatest understanding.