“You can live in a free country, but you are not truly free unless you have the opportunity and financial means to express that freedom.”
Thank you to Counterpoint Press for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Seidu Mohammed and Razak Iyal both endured unimaginable struggles before finally meeting in a Minneapolis bus station. These two men from Ghana began separate, multi-year long journeys as they sought asylum in first, the United States, and finally, Canada. Joe Meno, a novelist and journalist, conducted extensive interviews with the two men to capture their stories and help them share their stories.
I typically don’t read non-fiction and wasn’t sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself enthralled with these true accounts that read like a novel. The stories are understandably complex and thought-provoking. The book begins with the men already on their journey to Canada. As they brave below-zero temperatures and the threat of frostbite, their journeys from Ghana to the United States are told. We are given an in-depth view of each man and their families. I immediately felt sympathy for Seidu and Razak and appreciated the chance to gain a deeper understanding of their backgrounds and reasons for fleeing Ghana.
The book could be unsettling at times. This was expected. the men traveled through multiple countries and were continuously faced with corrupt systems working against them. Between having their money and documents stolen, to walking for days on end outside in dangerous jungles, the men and fellow asylum seekers exhibited immense strength and bravery.
Along with the retelling of the men’s journeys are short passages detailing what was happening globally regarding immigration. Those moments were welcomed because they gave me context and perspective. It was important to know the statistics of how many asylum seekers were successful and how the changing governments could bring even more challenges.
This was a quick read and truly a page-turner. Again, I had no expectations going in and I am so glad that I read this book. It has offered me a new perspective and insight into the lengths asylum seekers go to find safety in the world. This was a book that rocked my core, and I strongly recommend you read it.
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