22 Feb / Hakim’s Odyssey, Book 2: From Turkey to Greece by Fabien Toulmé, translated by Hannah Chute [in Booklist]
French graphic creator Fabien Toulmé opens the second of three volumes featuring Syrian refugee Hakim and his extended family with a clever recap of the first entry, facilitated by Toulmé’s young daughter, who asks to accompany him for the next interview: Toulmé lays out their car journey on the page with Syria-to-Turkey highlights, at the end of which Louise pronounces Hakim “a real superhero.”
Continuing the first installment’s palettes of blues, purples, and reds for present-day exchanges with Hakim and browns and blues to denote the past, Toulmé resumes Hakim’s harrowing journey with his 2013 arrival in Istanbul with pregnant wife Najmeh and most of her family. Their initial excitement is quickly dampened by challenges – finding steady work, avoiding local resentments and aggressions directed at refugees, and facing the early emergency C-section birth of son Hadi.
Najmeh’s father Abderrahim’s failure to find opportunities leads him to fly to France alone; his successful resettlement allows him to send for his immediate family, including Najmeh, who is still not yet 18, leaving Hakim behind with toddler Hadi. As their situation grows ever more desperate, Hakim needs to figure out how to reunite his splintered family.
Despite multiplying examples of inhumanity, the kindness of strangers proves lifesaving – and is restorative to readers, as well. With text deftly translated again by Hannah Chute, Toulmé once more portrays Hakim’s journey with resonating empathy.
Readers: Young Adult, Adult
Published: 2018 (France), 2022 (United States)