Top positive review
A moving diary
on 27 September 2015
Quite an interesting read. The opening thirty pages or so are a little bit unusual in style, sort of lyrical and poetic which is strange when set against the context of something brutal. Maybe it's an issue with the translation but quite often it's written in the present tense, "I go" "I see" which makes it feel a bit timeless and not connected to a particular moment.
The main tension in the book comes through her account of a brutal crackdown against any show of public dissent by the state, Samar being an Alawitee is unlikely to be killed her conscious however will not allow her to stay silent though about what she's seeing, this leads to her being branded a traitor and a criminal by her own village and people.
Certain parts were slightly unclear, when she heads towards demonstrations, is she going as a protester or as a journalist? She will sometimes set her agenda out as a journalist collecting evidence of human rights abuses and torture, but often we find her chanting and joining in with the protesters. Within the first 90 pages or so she attends several protests which are broken up violently, these early pages have a feeling of almost recklessness at times, as though she didn't realize how much danger she was in. As things move on we find changing addresses several times, having her internet cut and often afraid to leave the house, her self confidence gone. Her relationship with her daughter is also a fiery one and creates conflict, her desire to be a good mother and protect her daughter, and her need to speak out over what's she witnesses puts her in an impossible dilemma.
One slightly bizarre detail includes her carrying a knife around for protection which was odd, if a group of security personnel did decide to arrest her then I'm pretty sure a group of killers wouldn't be afraid of a knife.
Overall the level of journalism during the interviews and some of her first hand reporting is really powerful. If you're looking for a good first hand account of the early stages of the Syrian uprising with a little personal touch, I recommend buying this book.