Hope Not Fear: A Memoir

Suad Aldarra

Suad Aldarra

“We shape our societies through the stories we tell about ourselves. They connect us; melding our anxieties, hopes, memories and preoccupations. Conversely, untold stories are painful and divisive. They sit inside us and ache. Not being able to speak your truth, to be shut out of the human narrative, is nothing short of dehumanizing.”

Hope Not Fear, Hassan Akkad

Hassan has a gift of storytelling, whether through his spoken words or silent portraits. The first time I heard him speaking on a podcast I felt weirdly connected to a stranger that’s speaking about my home, wounds, and struggles. I felt less lonely, and that’s the power of stories. Hassan’s positive energy, nervous laughs, and honest tears go straight to the soul, and so does his book.

Book cover for 9781529059830
Hope Not Fear – Bluebird 2021

Hope Not Fear, narrates the story of life before the war in jasmine-scented Damascus and how it changed upside down for early twenties successful English teacher Hassan when he was arrested for taking the streets to protest in 2011.

“March 2012 was freezing cold, winter still lingering over Syria, as if spring would never come.”

After surviving torture and abuse in jail, Hassan leaves Syria for neighbouring Arab countries that puts limits on its visas, making planning for a future impossible. He later takes us along his smuggling journey reaching the UK where he believed he could add value since he knew the language. Little did Hassan know when he documented his escape trip through Europe that this film will end up in a documentary that would win him a BAFTA award.

Dealing with his own trauma, Hassan recharges by volunteering and helping others around him. He reflects on his days during the pandemic where he worked as a cleaner in his local hospital and ended up putting up a public message that led to a huge U-turn in the British government policy regarding the hospital workers benefits. He also shines the light on paper borders and how much it took its toll on him, coming from a loving strongly related family.

“Covid will go, but these injustices won’t. The virus will be dealt with eventually, but refugees will carry on living separated from their loved ones because of the documents they have or they don’t have.”

Hassan’s writing is honest and brutal. I am glad he managed to find and radiate hope through his impressive positive impact. Despite his story of injustice, torture and trauma, he still manages to uplift his readers. I personally felt encouraged to do more volunteering work.

The book with a tote bag that says Damascus in Arabic

Hope Not Fear published 3 September 2021 by Bluebird, is a book I’ll tell everyone about.

I managed to get early access to the e-book through NetGalley but having the printed version is priceless. You can buy the book through the links below:

Comments are disabled.