On August 21, 2013, Kassem Eid nearly died in a sarin gas attack in the town of Moadamiya. At least 1,500 people were killed. Later that day, he was hit by a mortar while helping the Free Syrian Army fight government forces. He survived that, too. But his entire world—friends, neighbors, family, everything he knew—had been devastated beyond repair.
Eid recalls moving to Moadamiya in 1989, at the age of three. The streets where he and his eleven siblings played were fragrant with jasmine. But he soon realized that he was treated differently at school because of his family's Palestinian immigrant origins, and their resistance to the brutal regime. When Bashar al-Assad succeeded his father in 2000, hopes that he would ease the state's severity were swiftly crushed.
The unprecedented scope of this brave, deeply felt memoir makes it unique in the body of literature to emerge from the Syrian civil war. Eid illuminates the realities of growing up in a corrupt dictatorship; the strictures of living under siege; the impact of unspeakable violence; and how, at extraordinary personal risk, he drew worldwide attention to the assault on cities across Syria. This is a searing account of oppression, war, grit, and escape, and a heartbreaking love letter to a world lost forever.