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

I would like to thank Bluebird/Pan Macmillian and Yusra Mardini for sending me this ARC via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Expected Publication: 3rd May 3018 by Pan Macmillian/Bluebird

The inspiring story of how one woman saved fellow refugees from drowning–and how she went on to become an Olympic swimmer.

When young Syrian refugee Yusra Mardini realized her boat’s engine shut down as she was traveling from Syria to Greece with other refugees, there was no hesitation: she dove into the water. Surfacing, she heard desperate prayers and sobbing from the passengers in the sinking boat above her. Between the waves, her elder sister Sarah screamed at her to get back on the boat. But Mardini was determined. She was not going to let Sarah do this alone. Grabbing the rope with one hand, she began kicking up the black water, inching the boat towards the distant shore.

This bold act of bravery saved the lives of a boatload of refugees heading to Turkey from Syria. After her arrival in Greece, Mardini, focused and undeterred, worked toward a lifelong goal: to compete in the Olympics. She succeeded, and competed in 2016 on the Refugee Olympic Team in Rio de Janeiro.

Butterfly tells her story, from Syria to the Olympics to her current work with the UN as a Goodwill Ambassador. Mardini is eager to tell her story in the hopes that readers will remember that refugees are ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, chased from their homes by a devastating war. In today’s political climate, this story is guaranteed to inspire and educate readers from every background.

I did not expect Butterfly to touch my heart the way that it has. This Non-Fiction/memoir book which is based on real events is an incredible and moving read. My eyes have been firmly opened to the terror, not only in Syria, but other countries throughout the world that are experiencing similar events.
I am so thankful that this book came my way.
Opening with Yusra, as well as her sister Sara and other refuges, who are helplessly stranded in the ocean, they are in desperate need to cross from Turkey to Greece. The boat’s engine has failed and there is no one able to repair it. Yusra and Sara are both strong, experienced swimmers and find themselves in the dark depths of the ocean pulling the boat to shore.
The prologue gave me chills. I was not expecting the opening to be as strong and in your face as it was. I could not begin to imagine how everyone on the boat felt during this awful time.
We are taken to the beginning of Yusra’s life growing up in Syria. We learn that her father is a avid swimmer and this was how Yusra learned to swim and eventually, as she grew older, developed a dream to one day compete in the Olympics. Her determination and passion to make her dream a reality is strong throughout, she never gives up.
Amongst all the violence, destruction and death, she tries to have a normal life – like so many others. There is hope that the war will end and life will be as it once was. Yusra explains that everyone led a normal life before the war, taking down assumptions and prejudices that people have about Syria. Her words moved me. We only think of Syria as the conflict that it is now, heavily influenced by the media and encouraged to believe what they show us.
It was hard to read the many struggles that were faced after the boat incident. It is a long gruelling road before they can find salvation and at times it feels that they will never find peace. I believe that it is written this way, from an emotional perspective, to make the many like myself who have never known conflict like this or felt fear about their home being bombed or losing friends and family, think and reflect on what is happening out in the world.
Yusra writing style is very much to the point, no sugarcoatting or beating around the bush. She wants to get the message across and she does this perfectly. The directness of her words hit me everytime.
I admired not only Yusra’s strength but all the millions of people living the same nightmare and how they manage to persist when all seems lost. I was engrossed in this book – it’s definitely a story that you cannot put down because it happened and is still happening to millions of people.
You must read this book because you will learn something from it. Your eyes will open wide and you will be glad that you followed Yusra’s story.



One thought on “ARC: Butterfly: From Refugee to Olympian – My Story of Rescue, Hope and Triumph by Yusra Mardini – Review

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