Saturday, May 26, 2018

Butterfly: from Refugee to Olympian, My Story of Rescue, Hope and Triumph

Butterfly: from Refugee to Olympian, My Story of Rescue, Hope and Triumph
By Yusra Mardini
St. Martin’s Press. 2018. 284 pgs. Biography

Yusra Mardini is from Syria, where from a young age she trained as a swimmer. As a young person she represented Syria at various international competitions and cherished a dream to someday swim for Syria at the Olympics. Then in 2015, after her family’s home was destroyed in the civil war that engulfed Syria and Damascus became an increasingly dangerous place to live, she and her sister Sara fled. Her book recounts their dangerous and grueling journey through Turkey, Greece, Hungary, and Serbia to Germany. Along the way she encountered reporters who were writing about the refugee crisis and wanted to photograph and interview her. Germany welcomed the refugees but life was still very hard until she found a swim coach who helped her start training again and find a place to live. Struggling with the one word identity “refugee,” she almost passed up a chance to swim in the 2016 Olympics on a refugee team, but encouraged by her parents, her coach and her newspaper and television contacts she decided to compete. Since then she has become the youngest ever Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and has embraced her identity as a refugee in order to speak for the thousands like her who have fled war and only want peace and a normal life. This is an inspiring read for adults and young adults. SH

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