Book Review

The Sea Prayer

When I first heard about The Sea Prayer, I got so excited that it is a new novel by Khaled Hosseini. Hosseini is one of my favorite authors and his novels are very inspirational. So, when Hosseini informed his excited fans that The Sea Prayer is not a novel, rather it is a book of illustrations, I got a bit disappointed. It is basically a children’s book based on true events. Hosseini described the Syrian crisis and the story of three years old Syrian Alan Kurdi, who drowned on the coast of Turkey in 2015. Hosseini was unable to take that picture from his mind, a three years old baby lying dead on the shore.

“The skies spitting bombs.
Starvation.
Burials.
These are the things you know.”

Hosseini explained the reason behind writing The Sea Prayer, “I had a really strong, visceral reaction – like I imagine millions of people around the world did when they saw that photograph of Alan Kurdi. As a father, I just kept imagining what it would be like to see my three-year-old face down on a beach and being lifted by a stranger, and having to see those pictures again, and again, and again. How do you endure that, how do you live? I just couldn’t comprehend what that would feel like.” -Khaled Hosseini

He decided to write about it, to write about the brutality going on in the world. His compact words carry deep meanings and one become so downhearted after reading the book. The Sea Prayer is for people of all ages. It revolves around a story of a Syrian family, explaining the bond between a son and a father. During their tragic escape journey on a moonlit night, the father is reminiscing to his son, reflecting upon their peaceful life in Syria before the war. He narrates to him the beauty of nature, the lush green fields, beautiful mornings, joyous family time and sunset at the beach.

“Oh, but if they saw, my darling.
Even half of what you have.
If only they saw.
They would say kinder things, surely.”

Then he goes on to describe how their beautiful world was destroyed, how they had to run from their own lands, and how they were looked down upon with unwelcoming glares by everyone. He consoles his son that everything is going to be alright, but deep down he knows that nothing is going to be okay. He can do nothing but pray that the sea takes care of his son. One cannot even imagine the height of despair and agony hidden in the words of the father.

At the beginning of the book, we see greenery everywhere. the lush illustrations are very soothing to the eyes, but then the scene changes and everything turns black and white. There is destruction and chaos everywhere. The hardcover of the book is very attractive. You just want to hug the book and keep on touching the pages and admiring the beautiful sketches and drawings. I finished the book in less than five minutes, and then I read it again, and again.

“I have heard it said we are the uninvited.
We are the unwelcome.”

One of the best things about Hosseini is that he will make you feel the pain. He is literally the only author who has made me cry a lot. He talks about the harsh realities of life, prioritizing the marginalized communities to make the world “feel” their side of the story. So, after memorizing the whole book at the bookstore, I bought it. To be very honest, it is kind of expensive, considering the fact that it has only 48 pages. I bought it because I am a diehard Hosseini fan, and I have all his books, in hardcover.

 

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