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The Lightless Sky
Cover of The Lightless Sky
The Lightless Sky
A Twelve-Year-Old Refugee's Harrowing Escape from Afghanistan and His Extraordinary Journey Across Half the World
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A gripping, inspiring, and eye-opening memoir of fortitude and survival—of a twelve-year-old boy's traumatic flight from Afghanistan to the West—that puts a face to one of the most shocking...
A gripping, inspiring, and eye-opening memoir of fortitude and survival—of a twelve-year-old boy's traumatic flight from Afghanistan to the West—that puts a face to one of the most shocking...
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  • A gripping, inspiring, and eye-opening memoir of fortitude and survival—of a twelve-year-old boy's traumatic flight from Afghanistan to the West—that puts a face to one of the most shocking and devastating humanitarian crises of our time.

    "To risk my life had to mean something. Otherwise what was it all for?"

    In 2006, after his father was killed, Gulwali Passarlay was caught between the Taliban who wanted to recruit him, and the Americans who wanted to use him. To protect her son, Gulwali's mother sent him away. The search for safety would lead the twelve-year-old across eight countries, from the mountains of eastern Afghanistan through Iran and Europe to Britain. Over the course of twelve harrowing months, Gulwali endured imprisonment, hunger, cruelty, brutality, loneliness, and terror—and nearly drowned crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Eventually granted asylum in England, Gulwali was sent to a good school, learned English, won a place at a top university, and was chosen to help carry the Olympic Torch in the 2012 London Games.

    In The Lightless Sky, Gulwali recalls his remarkable experience and offers a firsthand look at one of the most pressing issues of our time: the modern refugee crisis—the worst displacement of millions of men, women, and children in generations. Few, like Gulwali, make it to a country that offers the chance of freedom and opportunity. A celebration of courage and determination, The Lightless Sky is a poignant account of an exceptional human being who is today an ardent advocate of democracy—and a reminder of our responsibilities to those caught in terrifying and often deadly circumstances beyond their control.

About the Author-

  • Gulwali Passarlay was sent away from Afghanistan as a young boy, fleeing the conflict that had claimed his father's life. After an extraordinarily tortuous journey across eight countries, Gulwali arrived in the United Kingdom a year later and has most recently devoted his new life to education. Now twenty-one years old, he is set to graduate from the University of Manchester with a degree in politics. Gulwali is a member of many prestigious political, aid, and youth groups, each a stepping-stone to his ultimate goal: to run for the presidency of Afghanistan.

Reviews-

  • AudioFile Magazine Narrator Assaf Cohen so perfectly captures the voice of an expressive kid that it's hard to remember he isn't the author of this enthralling memoir. Gulwali Passarlay, now grown, recounts the story of his journey from Afghanistan to Europe when he was 12. Starting aboard a sinking boat in the Mediterranean, we flash back to the beginning of Gulwali's adventure. The author had a happy childhood in a conservative family until the murder of his father and grandfather propelled him and his brother to flee their home and head to Greece with a "fixer." When the brothers lose each other, Gulwali survives on his wits and the kindness of strangers. Cohen nails both the nasty and nice characters--everyone from Kurd to Englishman--and brings moving expression to Gulwali's growing confidence amid enough terrors for a lifetime. A.C.S. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine
  • Kirkus

    December 15, 2015
    The story of a boy's flight from a rapidly unraveling, murderous Afghanistan. Passarlay was 12 years old when his mother gave him strict orders: "Be brave. This is for your own good....However bad it gets, don't come back." His father, suspected by U.S. troops of cooperating with the Taliban, had been killed during a raid on their house, and this was no time for his sons to stick around. Thus begins the author's tale of his long odyssey west, a journey that would take him halfway around the world. Passarlay and his brother were separated early on, so the author had to survive on the wiles of a 12- year- old, which boiled down to him getting taken at every turn, giving a child's trust to one smooth- talking or brutish fixer after another. Occasionally, Passarlay's youthful voice sounds a little too worldly--"Despair filled my pockets like stones"--but the author provides all manner of small incidents and moments of awakening that leave a lasting impression: "I had never see a blonde woman before," he notes in Germany; "I had had such high expectations for Paris, the city where perfume rained from the skies. And yet all I had witnessed was a dirty, smelly, and cold city, filled with Parisians who shied away from us in horror." Mostly, this journey is a mare's- nest of misery--dirty, hungry, homesick, scared--but Passarlay had one trick up his sleeve. As a clever young kid, he could hide and stow away. He eventually made it to London, traumatized--"The next day I calmly walked into a pharmacy and bought a bottle of paracetamol. Then I swallowed them all"--and the nightmares linger, eight years after. A vivid, timely story of survival. If spies live in boredom punctuated by flashes of terrifying action, then refugees on the run live in constant high anxiety punctuated by flashes of horror and panic.

    COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    February 1, 2016
    With the intense national debate about whether to accept refugees, this heartrending story takes readers behind the headlines, with the focus on the personal struggle of a desperate Afghan boy who flees the Taliban and U.S. forces when his doctor father is killed in an American air strike. From the start, the sorrow is unforgettable, as when 12-year-old Gulwali's loving, widowed mother sends him and his brother away from their rural home with the command that he can never forget: Be safe and do not come back. Then the brothers are parted: Will they find each other? Gulwali makes friends on the boat, traveling through the Mediterranean and hidden in crowded vehicles through 12 countries. He walks over mountains and across borders, until, finally, he finds political asylum in England. The close-up detail is intensea prison cell is warmer than the cold outsideas Gulwali faces starvation and filth and the virulent prejudice against bloody migrants. The heartbreaking personal drama stays with you, and so do the statistics: today more than half the world's refugees are children.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2016, American Library Association.)

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The Lightless Sky
The Lightless Sky
A Twelve-Year-Old Refugee's Harrowing Escape from Afghanistan and His Extraordinary Journey Across Half the World
Gulwali Passarlay
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A Twelve-Year-Old Refugee's Harrowing Escape from Afghanistan and His Extraordinary Journey Across Half the World
Gulwali Passarlay
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