The graphic novel, Baddawi, written by Leila Abdelrazaq, is a coming of age memoir told from the perspective of a young Palestinian boy. This novel depicts the author’s own father’s childhood memories. He was born into a life of war at a refugee camp named Baddawi located in Northern Lebanon. Baddawi is composed of black and white graphics that vividly paint a picture of the struggles the Palestinian people endured.
The main character, Ahmad, takes us through his childhood beginning in the refugee camp and moving all over Lebanon in search of safer living conditions. Ahmad’s family and the other Palestinians lived in fear. They were constantly under attack from Arab armies. After receiving a job offer in Beirut, Ahmad’s father decided it was best to relocate. However, even in Beirut they couldn’t escape all of the political and religious persecutions going on around them. The murders of Palestinian freedom fighters continued across Lebanon.
However, during all this turmoil, Ahmad stuck to his studies and was committed to school in hopes of getting an education. Once the fighting became out of control in Beirut, he received his parents approval to go back to school in Baddawi. After traveling back and forth between Baddawi and Beirut for a while and keeping up with his studies in preparation for the college entrance exam, he was rejected by a scholarship funding program. With the help of Ahmad’s Uncle, he was able to get accepted into a school in the United States. Although he didn’t have the money his family worked out a ‘deal’ with the bank and was granted his visa, allowing him to go to America, but not to return to Lebanon.
Ahmad took the chance and moved out to America. He eventually makes a return to his home country after some years. This novel opens reader’s eyes to the struggles the Palestinian people faced. Though determined and dedicated many of these people, like Ahmad, successfully followed their dreams. Overall, Baddawi is an enjoyable read and does a great job of letting these stories be heard.
Victoria DeSantis & Stephen Odgers ’19