Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea

A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea

One Refugee's Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival

Melissa Fleming

Flatiron Books

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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 floats with a small inflatable water ring around her waist and clutches two children, 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 Sweden and a new life. For days, Doaa floats, prays, and sings to the babies in her arms. She must stay alive for these children. She must not lose hope.

Doaa Al Zamel was once an average Syrian girl growing up in a crowded house in a bustling city near the Jordanian border. But in 2011, her life was upended. Inspired by the events of the Arab Spring, Syrians began to stand up against their own oppressive regime. When the army was sent to take control of Doaa's hometown, strict curfews, power outages, water shortages, air raids, and violence disrupted everyday life. After Doaa's father's barbershop was destroyed and rumors of women being abducted spread through the community, her family decided to leave Syria for Egypt, where they hoped to stay in peace until they could return home. Only months after their arrival, the Egyptian government was overthrown and the environment turned hostile for refugees.

In the midst of this chaos, Doaa falls in love with a young opposition fighter who proposes marriage and convinces her to flee to the promise of safety and a better future in Europe. Terrified and unable to swim, Doaa and her young fiance hand their life savings to smugglers and board a dilapidated fishing vessel with five hundred other refugees, including a hundred children. After four horrifying days at sea, another ship, filled with angry men shouting insults, rams into Doaa's boat, sinking it and leaving the passengers to drown.

That is where Doaa's struggle for survival really begins.

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

EXCERPT

ONE

A Childhood in Syria



The second time Doaa nearly drowned, she was adrift in the center of a hostile sea that had just swallowed the man she loved. She was so cold she couldn’t feel her feet, and so thirsty her tongue had...

Reviews

Praise for A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea

"Melissa Fleming's tale of a young Syrian woman's search for peace and safety is a book written for our times. On every page, loss and hope tangle. On every page, the human toll of the worst humanitarian crisis of our time is painfully, heartbreakingly brought home. This is an emotional read, at times painful, but it is above all a poignant tribute to hope, to resilience, and to the capacity for grace and generosity that dwells deep in the human heart." —Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and And the Mountains Echoed

"I think Melissa Fleming is one of the most important people in the world. As the world's foremost advocate for refugees, she has worked tirelessly to put a human face on the greatest crisis of our time. There is no more important calling than this. Millions have been displaced by the wars in Iraq and Syria, and their situation is desperate. Yet everyone who has worked with refugees is amazed by their resilience and spirit. There is no better way to demonstrate this spirit than with the power of a single story. Melissa has found that story. The story of Doaa is dramatic, riveting, and ultimately hopeful. A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea provides a portrait of the refugee crisis that cannot be matched by any amount of cable news coverage." —Brandon Stanton, Humans of New York

"This poignant tale of survival and loss gives immediacy to the plight of Syrian refugees. Fleming’s skillful writing brings new vividness to Doaa Al Zamel’s dramatic story. This book amply demonstrates why Al Zamel has since become a symbol of hope for other refugees. Fleming should be congratulated for bringing [this] inspiring and illuminating story to the page." —Publishers Weekly

“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… 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.” —Kirkus Reviews

"In a few years, when people will look back at our current time of conflicts, dislocation, and displacement, the story of Doaa al-Zamel—and of those she saw die, and of the new life she saved—will stand out as one of its defining narratives." —Bruno Giussani, European director, TED

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Melissa Fleming

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.

Melissa Fleming

Alessandra Thomsen

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Meet the Author

January 26, 2017

Meet Melissa Fleming as she reads from her new book A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: One Refugee's Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival.

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