Escape from Aleppo

Escape from Aleppo

For Ages: 8 - 12
An Indie Next List Pick

“Filled with kindness and hope, but also with the harsh realities of the horrors of war, this heartbreaking book is a necessary reminder of what many people live through every day.” —Booklist (starred review)

Nadia’s family is forced to flee their home in Aleppo, Syria, when the Arab Spring sparks a civil war in this timely coming-of-age novel from award-winning author N.H. Senzai.

Silver and gold balloons. A birthday cake covered in pink roses. A new dress.

Nadia stands at the center of attention in her parents’ elegant dining room. This is the best day of my life, she thinks. Everyone is about to sing “Happy Birthday,” when her uncle calls from the living room, “Baba, brothers, you need to see this.” Reluctantly, she follows her family into the other room. On TV, a reporter stands near an overturned vegetable cart on a dusty street. Beside it is a mound of smoldering ashes. The reporter explains that a vegetable vendor in the city of Tunis burned himself alive, protesting corrupt government officials who have been harassing his business. Nadia frowns.

It is December 17, 2010: Nadia’s twelfth birthday and the beginning of the Arab Spring. Soon anti-government protests erupt across the Middle East and, one by one, countries are thrown into turmoil. As civil war flares in Syria and bombs fall across Nadia’s home city of Aleppo, her family decides to flee to safety. Inspired by current events, this novel sheds light on the complicated situation in Syria that has led to an international refugee crisis, and tells the story of one girl’s journey to safety.
  • Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books | 
  • 336 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781481472173 | 
  • January 2018 | 
  • Grades 3 - 7
List Price $16.99 (price may vary by retailer)
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Read an Excerpt

Reading Group Guide

A Reading Group Guide to

Escape from Aleppo

By N. H. Senzai

About the Book

Twelve-year-old Nadia is much like any other preteen girl: she loves doing her nails and following the lives of television and pop music stars. Unlike most girls her age, Nadia is coming of age while a civil war rages inside her country of Syria. When the conflict arrives in her home city of Aleppo, her family makes a desperate attempt to flee and reunite with her father and uncles in a safer place. When a bomb explodes and separates Nadia from her family, she wakes up alone and unsure how to find the planned rendezvous location. Setting out alone, she happens upon a mysterious old man and his donkey. Although Nadia can’t completely trust her newfound companion, she needs him to help her find her family and escape Aleppo to a new life in Turkey. Escape from Aleppo is a powerful story based on current events that reveals the complicated and dangerous situation in Syria, and the effects of the war on its citizens.

Discussion Questions

1. From the first page of Escape from Aleppo, the author uses sensory language to describe the atmosphere of violence and destruction in the Syrian city. As you read, place sticky notes on sections that create sensory imagery via descriptive language. Spend time discussing how the language brings the story to life.

2. Throughout the story, Nadia is gripped by a see more

More Books from this Author

Ticket to India
Saving Kabul Corner
Shooting Kabul

About the Author

N. H. Senzai
Photograph © Sylvia Fife

N. H. Senzai

N.H. Senzai is the author of Shooting Kabul, which was critically acclaimed and on numerous award lists. Publishers Weekly called it “hard hitting, emotionally wrenching.” Her second book, Saving Kabul Corner, was nominated for an Edgar Award. She is also the author of Ticket to India and Escape from Aleppo. Ms. Senzai lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family. Visit her online at