Done reading book number 41 for the year – “Welcome to the New World” by Jake Halpern & Michael Sloan. It’s a non-fiction graphic novel that tracks the story of a newly arrived immigrant Syrian family in America.

The family in this novel is one of the luckier ones – they manage to escape unscathed. Although Ibrahim Aldabaan, the head, had no choice but to leave his mother behind because her visa to America wasn’t approved. With five young kids to take care of, Ibrahim and his wife have a rough road ahead. With no jobs and very little money, they have to become independent within a few weeks.

Somehow it felt like their experiences were sugar-coated, or maybe I was expecting something more than the pretty straightforward story that’s served in this book. The artwork is nice, not eye-grabbing or extraordinary. ‘Welcome to the New World’ was originally a cartoon strip that appeared in the New York Times and was later adapted into a graphic novel, so the panels have a very newspaper style touch to it, almost making it impersonal.

For those who haven’t followed the Syrian crisis closely, “Welcome to the New World” is a good pick to understand the lives of migrants and the hardships they have to deal with when they move to a new nation – be it racism, bigotry or a loss of their sense of self. But to readers who have been reading up on the civil war there, the graphic novel makes for an ordinary reading experience. It’s a 3/5 from me.

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