| Butterfly Reviewed | Definitely Worth the Read

Butterfly: From Refugee to Olympian – My Story of Rescue, Hope, and Triumph by Yusra Mardini

  • Published May 3rd 2018 by Pan MacMillan
  • Tags: Nonfiction, Autobiography/Memoir, Sports/Athletes, Syria
  • Pages: 288

| Synopsis from the Publisher |

Yusra Mardini fled her native Syria to the Turkish coast in 2015 and boarded a small dinghy full of refugees bound for Greece. When the small and overcrowded boat’s engine cut out, it began to sink. Yusra, her sister and two others took to the water, pushing the boat for three and a half hours in open water until they eventually landed on Lesbos, saving the lives of the passengers aboard.

Butterfly is the story of that remarkable woman, whose journey started in a war-torn suburb of Damascus and took her through Europe to Berlin and from there to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

| Book Review |

– Content –

The Journey –> Yusra recounts her story of escaping Syria with her sister and a group of relatives in such amazing detail. I felt like I was with her as they traveled from one place to another, slowly making their way to Europe. It was heart-wrenching, awe-inspiring, and incredible what she and her family went through in order to find a safe place to live.

The Family Dynamic –> Much of this story involves Yusra’s relationship with her sister and her family. Not only do Yusra and her sister swim, but they also share moments of great difficulty together, which makes it harder later on, when Yusra starts getting media attention in her bid for the Olympics, because both of them experienced this journey together, and yet Yusra is the one being asked about her experiences.

Found Family –> I enjoyed seeing how this journey brought Yusra and the many people she meets along the way together in a sort of patchwork family. Becoming a refugee meant that Yusra and her relatives had to make connections with people along the way to survive, but many of these connections ended up meaning so much more. The people she met along the way became like family to her. It was one of the sweeter elements of the book.

The Ups and the Downs –> I like how Yusra included all the many struggles she went through as well as the high moments. There are times when she and her fellow travelers are uncertain of their survival, of whether they will be sent back, of getting separated or imprisoned. Even moments of rockiness in her relationship with her sister are included, which made me feel really close to Yusra and her story.

– Literary Value –

A Touching Memoir –> I felt like Yusra did a great job of putting her story together. She mentions help she received from some of the people she meets along the way through her journey from Syria to Europe who helped her recreate her story accurately, who supplied photos, and who gave her support. This book was most likely a team effort, but it was really well put together and I think Yusra’s voice shone through consistently throughout the whole book.

Including Her Childhood –> I liked that Yusra included her childhood and life leading up to her decision to leave Syria. Not only does she give a good look at what shaped her into the athlete she is today, she also gives an accurate view of life in Syria before, and after, the civil war begins. Many times, she mentions how people in Europe who talk to her seem to have a very skewed view of what Syria is actually like. Many seemed surprised she knew how to put on makeup or knew what fashionable clothing was. So it made sense for her to use part of this book to show that Syria isn’t some primitive civilization in the middle of the desert.

Pacing –> I felt like the book was divided up well and the pacing was good. I never felt like there were unnecessary tangents happening or long-winded paragraphs that slowed the story. She keeps everything pretty to the point, almost factual, which kept me engaged with her story.

– Entertainment Factor –

Refugee Does Not Define Me –> I was blown away by how strong Yusra and her family is after reading this book. I was glued to my seat for most of it, and my eyes were opened to the struggles that refugees must go through, all because they want to find a place that is safe to live. Yusra fled her home, a place she loves, because bombs were dropping into her city. She almost died numerous times. Yet because she becomes a refugee, she is treated so poorly by those of other nations (not all, but many). She continues to struggle over the word “refugee” throughout the book, and it definitely made me think about my own ideas about what refugee means.

Olympics –> I’ve always been into the Olympics, which is one of the reasons I wanted to read this book. I was excited to see how Yusra made it from war-torn Syria to Germany, to making it to the Olympics on the Refugee team, the first time such a team was created. This story was definitely worth the read, because Yusra’s story is so compelling and I was truly spellbound while reading.

– Cover Art –

I like this cover a lot. It’s very beautiful! The reflective water overlaid on Yusra’s face is really stunning-looking. I was instantly drawn to the book because of it. The water almost looks like it’s glowing, which really catches your eye and makes you pay attention.I also like that an image of her swimming is also used, because the foundation of this book is built on Yusra’s connection with swimming.

The blue tones and the overall simplistic look of this cover make me like it. I don’t think it’s too busy or has any unnecessarily elements that would otherwise detract.

| My Rating |

Definitely Worth the Read

This was an excellently put-together memoir. It’s a short-sweet look into the life of Olympic swimmer Yusra Mardini and her journey from war-torn Syria to Europe with her family. It will open your eyes to the struggles that refugees must go through in the name of safety and security. I really connected with Yusra through her easy writing style and her emotional openness. Definitely give this one a read!

Thoughts & Thanks

Thank you so much for reading this post. I would love to hear your thoughts on this book if you have read it. If you’re considering reading it, let me know what you think, once you do!

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