Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Memoir: Destination Freedom by Lily Amis
Destination Freedom by Lily Amis
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing
Number of Pages: 148
Published: November 22nd, 2014
Source: In exchange for an honest review, a review copy was received from the author.
Why I wanted to read this: Request from the author and this description of the book:
"The best way to understand the suffering of others is to hear their stories of courage and struggle. Being homeless, displaced, isolated and useless is hard to imagine if you've never suffered it. I have, so I speak out. Destination: Freedom is a memoir based on the true life story of a young girl Lily and her mom. With only two suitcases and a large supply of hope mother and child escape to Europe from their war-torn homeland."
When Lily was very little she and her mother went to Germany for a much-needed eye operation, only to return to their home country deteriorating around them. ASIAcity was slowly becoming more controlling of women, requiring them to be veiled and everyone's movements were being watched. They were moving away from Western things (movies and music were expressly forbidden) and the sexes were beginning to be separated. While away, Lily's father and beloved grandparents stayed behind and ultimately her father ended up abandoning them for another woman and sold off all their belongings. At five, Lily's mother was left with nothing. Eventually, her mother remarried and as a war was beginning to ravage in ASIAcity, they felt it was time to escape to Europe. They tried desperately to get a visa out of the country, but were not successful and eventually escaped by gaining a visa to Singapore and then traveled to Europe. Gaining entry to Europe was challenging, "Within one week, we flew from ASIAcity to Singapore, from there to EUcity, from EUcity back to Singapore and from there back to EUcity again. It was more than 46 hours of flying!" At this time, Lily was only ten years old. Eventually, Lily and her family settled in Europe, which brought about its own unique challenges. Finding housing, financial assistance, and work permits all while trying to seek asylum. Difficulties were beginning to arise between Lily and her mother's husband leading them to separate and further financial and emotional difficulties occurred. I don't want to give too much of the story away, suffice to say, their life in Europe was challenging.
Lily tells her story in a very personal, honest way, detailing what life for a refugee feels like as well as all of the challenges in trying to be accepted by your new country. Lily and her mother were very isolated and dealt with a lot of red-tape trying to get work permits or even legal status as a refugee. There was a constant fear of being sent back to their home country, while the country they were in wasn't treating them with respect or dignity. Lily and her mother appeared to loose the hope and optimism they initially felt about leaving their home country, and it was replaced by anger and frustration with the bureaucracy. Some fifteen years later, Lily and her mother returned to their home country and at the end of the book, she reflects on this experience. Lily states that "this book is based on true events which happened between 1976 and 2002. The characters in this book are based on real people. As a former-war-refugee, I see myself as the voice for the voiceless and helpless victims of greedy war. I’m also the voice for female sufferers worldwide, who have experienced and suffered from bullying, depression, emotional and sexual harassment."
Throughout the story, Lily uses ASIAcity to refer to her birthplace and EUcity for the city in which she eventually became a citizen. While I think this allows the reader to see the difficulties that refugees can experience, I personally would have liked to know more of the backstory on Lily's home country. Especially, when she was talking about the changes that the country underwent while she was in Germany as a child. She certainly reflects a passion for her people, and I thought it would've given me an even more personal feel if she would've named the cities. Although, without knowing the names, her story had more of a universal feel for the current climate regarding immigration. A wonderful memoir told with lots of passion and heart.