The Lightless Sky

The Lightless Sky

A Twelve-year-old Refugee's Harrowing Escape From Afghanistan and His Extraordinary Journey Across Half the World

Book - 2016
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A gripping, inspiring, and eye-opening memoir of fortitude and survival--of a twelve-year-old boy's traumatic flight from Afghanistan to the West--that puts a face to one of the most shocking and devastating humanitarian crises of our time.

"To risk my life had to mean something. Otherwise what was it all for?"

In 2006, after his father was killed, Gulwali Passarlay was caught between the Taliban who wanted to recruit him, and the Americans who wanted to use him. To protect her son, Gulwali's mother sent him away. The search for safety would lead the twelve-year-old across eight countries, from the mountains of eastern Afghanistan through Iran and Europe to Britain. Over the course of twelve harrowing months, Gulwali endured imprisonment, hunger, cruelty, brutality, loneliness, and terror--and nearly drowned crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Eventually granted asylum in England, Gulwali was sent to a good school, learned English, won a place at a top university, and was chosen to help carry the Olympic Torch in the 2012 London Games.

In The Lightless Sky, Gulwali recalls his remarkable experience and offers a firsthand look at one of the most pressing issues of our time: the modern refugee crisis--the worst displacement of millions of men, women, and children in generations. Few, like Gulwali, make it to a country that offers the chance of freedom and opportunity. A celebration of courage and determination, The Lightless Sky is a poignant account of an exceptional human being who is today an ardent advocate of democracy--and a reminder of our responsibilities to those caught in terrifying and often deadly circumstances beyond their control.

Publisher: San Francisco :, HarperOne,, [2016]
Copyright Date: ♭2016
ISBN: 9780062443878
0062443879
Characteristics: 361 pages :,colour illustrations, map
Additional Contributors: Ghouri, Nadene 1975-

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cheerphil
Jan 29, 2017

I don't know if I've ever read non-fiction before that also fell into the categories of page-turning tear-jerker. The Lightless Sky, which I happened to pick up randomly off the new book shelf, is both. It's a gripping insight into the netherworld of human smuggling, as millions of people from war-torn regions try to escape to safety.

How easily those of us with western passports buy discount airfare so we can travel to countries like Greece and Turkey (me included, many times), secure in the knowledge that our embassies will help us in the unlikely event that anything goes wrong. In a parallel universe, those same countries are the pathway for countless desperate refugees who pay human smugglers many thousands of dollars for a perilous and inhumane journey that affords them no real guarantees.

And yet, I was so touched by the random acts of kindness by many people along the way, enabling this extraordinary young man to eventually reach Britain where he was reunited with his brother. It's a reminder that each of us can choose whether to help somebody in need, or whether to close our eyes and harden our hearts.

The author spent a while in Calais' "Jungle", a vast shantytown that I had seen media reporting of, but didn't really know too much else about. Reading about it from the perspective of those trying to escape to the life we take for granted was eye-opening.

This is a very topical subject right now, at a time when so many of us are stunned at the heartlessness of a government that is summarily closing its borders to people coming from countries torn apart by warfare that was financed, orchestrated and arguably even caused by that same government.

l
LindaMarion
Apr 22, 2016

I was moved emotionally by how difficult a journey it was for this boy to reach Britain from Afghanistan. It provided me with new empathy for the plight of refuees. A great read and highly recommend the book to all.

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