Genre: Memoir, graphic novel
Medium: French paperback
Synopsis: Riad is a small, white-passing child whose hair is a beautiful gold color. He wants to be a doctor when he grows up, and he’s not very enthusiastic about having a little brother. He also lives in Syria. Riad is just beginning school where he’s facing the difficulties of learning to read in a completely different language, as well as the possibility of being punished with a swift smack on the hands with a baton. He’s hoping to fit in, but most of the kids his age thinks he’s Jewish–something that’s not taken very well in these parts. His parents are having difficulties, what with his father (Syrian) working as a professor and having generally a good time, and his mother (French) staying at home cooking, cleaning, and having a hard time adjusting. In this tome, Riad gets a circumcision, a new little brother is introduced to the family, Riad’s father must choose between passing an influential student or failing him, and Riad’s mother wants to leave the Middle East altogether.
Review: This tome is one of the most compelling yet for little Riad’s story. His troubles seem gigantic–sometimes more troubling that those of the less fortunate–but that’s all due to perspective. Riad faces two main obstacles in this tome: getting a circumcision, and dealing with jealousy of now not only one but two little brothers.
His parents, on the other hand, have more adult-sized problems. His mother is pregnant again, and decides she wants to leave Syria for good. His father struggles with being recognized at his work, and keeping his wife happy.
Riad is content being wherever–he goes to school in France, and finds that school there is much easier than that in Syria (and the teacher doesn’t smack the students)! And, he’s even more happy to be seen as a Muslim, or at the very least, not a Jewish person. This tome goes even more in-depth with the anti-semitism ideology in Syria, as well as what it means to be a child who’s constantly on the move.