Homes: A Refugee Story, by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah and Winne Yeung, is a Canada Reads contender and will be defended by Chuck Comeau, drummer from the band, Simple Plan and founder of the Simple Plan Foundation, which is devoted to helping young people in need — from suicide prevention, to poverty, mental health awareness, musical education and drug addiction. The debates will take place between March 25 and 28, 2019
Homes follows the life of the al Rabeeah family, who left their home in Iraq in hopes of a safer life. They moved to Homs, Syria. Abu Bakr, one of eight children, was just ten years old when civil war broke out on the streets around him. Homes is a remarkable true account of growing up in a war zone and ultimately finding safety in Canada, told from Abu Bakr’s perspective. It is a story that he had a deep-seated desire to share with Canadians.
Winnie Yeung has expertly crafted this story, drawing on countless hours of interviews with Abu Bakr and his family. The result is a beautifully-written, eye-opening book that is both heartbreaking and hopeful. In an interview with CBC books, Yeung reflected on the process of helping to tell the al Rabeeah family’s story: “Listening became the thing that I had to learn how to do…. To be able to just sit back and be quiet and let Abu Bakr tell the story that he needed to…. Now I’m realizing that is the best gift that we can give to anyone who’s going through any kind of trauma, big or small, just to listen.”
This is the second major accolade for Homes since it was published in May, 2018. In October, it was also nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction.
Canada Reads is an annual “Battle of Books” that airs on CBC radio and is hosted by Ali Hassan. Taking place at the end of March, it is a week of debates where five Canadian celebrities each champion one book that they think every Canadian should read. Every day, the panellists vote one book out of the debates until there is a single book left standing. The other contenders are:
- Suzanne by Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette, translated by Rhonda Mullins, defended by Yanic Truesdale
- Brother by David Chariandy, defended by Lisa Ray
- By Chance Alone by Max Eisen, defended by Ziya Tong
- The Woo-Woo by Lindsay Wong, defended by Joe Zee