A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea
One Refugee's Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival
An Alex Award Winner
In A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea, Melissa Fleming shares the harrowing journey of Doaa Al Zamel, a young Syrian refugee in search of a better life. Doaa and her family leave war-torn Syria for Egypt where the climate is becoming politically unstable and increasingly dangerous. She meets and falls in love with Bassem, a former Free Syrian Army fighter and together they decide to leave behind the hardship and harassment they face in Egypt to flee for Europe, joining the ranks of the thousands of refugees who make the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean on overcrowded and run-down ships to seek asylum overseas and begin a new life. After four days at sea, their boat is sunk by another boat filled with angry men shouting threats and insults. With no land in sight and surrounded by bloated, floating corpses, Doaa is adrift with a child’s inflatable water ring around her waist, while two little girls cling to her neck. Doaa must stay alive for them. She must not lose strength. She must not lose hope.
Praise for A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea
“Fleming deftly illustrates the pain of those who choose to leave Syria . . . [She] recounts their narrative with compassion and without melodrama, and her book is ultimately a story of hope . . . The message is to try to humanize one young woman, to tell her tale so that the migrant crisis does not become a bunch of nameless, faceless people fleeing a war but human beings with families, with needs, and with desires.”—Newsweek
"Doaa’s incredible fight to live, one of only a few refugees to survive four days in a sea of corpses, is recounted by Melissa Fleming in her moving new book.”—New York Daily News
"Fleming's account is as gripping as it is moving; yet as Doaa herself points out in an afterword, 'it is only a small glimpse of the hardship and pain that refugees around the world endure."—Financial Times
"While it is the story of so many Syrians, so many refugees, it is also the story of one woman, and as such it should enable us to see beyond the cold weight of the numbers, and into an individual's own warm and vivid story . . . If A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea does push more people into action and solidarity, then it will have done vital work; the most important work, perhaps, that a book can do right now."—The Guardian
“Some books should be required reading. A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea is one of those books. Not simply because the tale of a Syrian refugee is so timely, or the topic so important. But because of its lessons about persistence, selflessness, and hope, which are the heartbeat of this true story . . . Consider this book a must-read for anyone looking to understand the lives and backstories of the millions of displaced persons currently seeking refuge in Europe and elsewhere . . . For all of us tempted to quit when things get hard, or to lose hope when the landscape seems terrifyingly bleak, Doaa’s remarkable perseverance is a necessary and welcome rebuke. Her triumph proves that we are all capable of much more than we can imagine, and that our own commitment to courage can have an impact that reaches far beyond our individual lives.”—Christian Science Monitor
"I think Melissa Fleming is one of the most important people in the world. As the world's foremost advocate for refugees, she has worked tirelessly to put a human face on the greatest crisis of our time. There is no more important calling than this. Millions have been displaced by the wars in Iraq and Syria, and their situation is desperate. Yet everyone who has worked with refugees is amazed by their resilience and spirit. There is no better way to demonstrate this spirit than with the power of a single story. Melissa has found that story. The story of Doaa is dramatic, riveting, and ultimately hopeful. A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea provides a portrait of the refugee crisis that cannot be matched by any amount of cable news coverage."—Brandon Stanton, Humans of New York
Reviews from Goodreads
Read an Excerpt
A Childhood in Syria
The second time Doaa nearly drowned, she was adrift in the center of a hostile sea that had just swallowed the man she loved. She was so cold she couldn’t feel her feet, and so thirsty her tongue had...