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"To risk my life had to mean something. Otherwise what was it all for?"
In 2006, after his father was killed, Gulwali Passarlay was caught between the Taliban, who wanted to recruit him, and the Americans, who wanted to use him. To protect her son, Gulwali's mother sent him away. The search for safety would lead the 12-year-old across eight countries, from the mountains of Eastern Afghanistan through Iran and Europe to Britain. Over the course of 12 harrowing months, Gulwali endured imprisonment, hunger, cruelty, brutality, loneliness, and terror - and nearly drowned crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Eventually granted asylum in England, Gulwali was sent to a good school, learned English, won a place at a top university, and was chosen to help carry the Olympic torch in the 2012 London Games.
In The Lightless Sky, Gulwali recalls his remarkable experience and offers a firsthand look at one of the most pressing issues of our time: the modern refugee crisis - the worst displacement of millions of men, women, and children in generations. Few, like Gulwali, make it to a country that offers the chance of freedom and opportunity. A celebration of courage and determination, The Lightless Sky is a poignant account of an exceptional human being who is today an ardent advocate of democracy - and a reminder of our responsibilities to those caught in terrifying and often deadly circumstances beyond their control.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Daryl on 12-10-16
A Face for Refugees
Gulwali's story is unique because it's being told, because he survived both on his smarts and some luck and help along the way... and yet it's the story of other children fleeing areas of intense poverty and corruption and conflict. This book is written in an accessible style, and yet some of the writing is unpolished and choppy. Some things are repeated frequently, while many "characters" appear and disappear and then get a mention as though the reader remembers who they are.
I like how Gulwali neither glossed over his preferential treatment in spots nor provided extra shock value. He is both grateful to the UK for taking him in and painfully aware of some of the culture that doesn't fit who he is and what he believes. He's neither a tragic victim nor a blameless hero; he speaks about his nightmares and battles with depression openly and honestly.
The fact that this book was written nearly a decade after its events take place provides both a needed remove for the author's introspection and yet a stark reminder that things are not so different today (see "Nujeen" for a more contemporary read about a child refugee).
It's well worth your time, money and credit.
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