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I Remember Beirut by Zeina Abirached Review

Title: I Remember Beirut

Author: Zeina Abirached

First published December 1, 2008

96 pages, Paperback

ISBN: 9781467744584 (ISBN10: 1467744581)

Rating: 3.57


Jasmine and Caleb have been inseparable since childhood. Their love story was supposed to be perfect.

Jasmine was to marry Caleb while her best friend, Lila, was to marry Caleb’s best friend, Ryan. But fate had other plans.

Lila and Ryan were killed in a tragic accident, leaving Jasmine and Caleb shattered. For years, they couldn’t stand the sight of each other without feeling the pain of their loss.

They were like fire and ice, unwilling to forgive and forget. But one day, something changes.

They realize that they’re not enemies and that their love was always meant to be. They’re scared to take the leap, but they know that they have to try.

Will they be able to overcome their grief and find love again?

About the Author

Zeina Abirached hails from Beirut, Lebanon, where she pursued graphic arts. She furthered her studies in Paris, France.

She has authored three graphic novels: ‘Beyrouth-Catharsis’, ’38, Rue Youssef Semaani’, and ‘Mourir, Partir, Revenir – Le Jeu des Hirondelles’. These books were initially published in French and have been translated into Dutch, Italian, and Spanish.

Her books, which are mainly autobiographical, are illustrated in black and white and chronicle her experiences during the Lebanese civil war in the 1980s.

Editoral Review

Zeina Abiracheds graphic novel, I Remember Beirut, takes readers on an emotional journey through the authors memories of growing up in war-torn Beirut during the 1980s. The critically acclaimed book, first published on December 1, 2008, is a recollection of the Arab-Israeli conflict that ravaged Lebanon, leaving a lasting impact on its citizens.

Abiracheds work belongs to the genre of graphic memoir, a form of literature that fuses graphic narrative with autobiography. Her powerful storytelling confronts readers with the pain, fear, and trauma of living through a civil war.

Abiracheds signature style, characterized by her use of a black and white, stark visual aesthetic, deftly depicts the devastation that accompanies war. I Remember Beirut opens with a young Zeina awaking to the sound of bombs, a terrifying and common occurrence in Beirut at that time.

Readers follow her as she navigates the rubble-filled streets of her neighborhood, interacts with her parents, neighbors, and friends, and ultimately tries to make sense of the perilous world around her. One of the books main strengths is its multidimensional characters, who are rendered with empathy and depth.

Abiracheds family members are complex and fully realized, their joys and concerns foregrounded within the book’s pages. Through her graphic novel, Abirached challenges readers to imagine a vibrant and diverse Beirut, a city where people from different backgrounds coexisted peacefully before the war.

Despite its visual brilliance and careful character development, some readers may find I Remember Beirut to be too heavy on personal anecdotes and lacking in historic detail. Some may also find the graphic novel format challenging, as it requires active engagement and a willingness to interpret nonverbal cues.

However, Abiracheds work is significant not just for its representation of personal trauma but also for its ability to offer a timely perspective on the political situation in the Middle East. Lebanon is once again in the midst of a political and economic crisis, and Abiracheds work provides readers with a historical lens through which to view current events.

In conclusion, I Remember Beirut by Zeina Abirached is a powerful, evocative graphic memoir that is essential reading for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the Arab-Israeli conflict in Lebanon. The book’s artistic ingenuity and emotional resonance ensure readers will be moved by Abiracheds storytelling.

It is highly recommended for readers interested in graphic novels or memoirs and those with an interest in the history and politics of the Middle East. Overall, I Remember Beirut earns a rating of 4 out of 5, with points for the evocative and carefully rendered storytelling countered only by minor limitations in contextual background information.

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