A Game for Swallows
When Zeina was born, the civil war in Lebanon had been going on for six years, so it's just a normal part of life for her and her parents and little brother. The city of Beirut is cut in two, separated by bricks and sandbags and threatened by snipers and shelling. East Beirut is for Christians, and West Beirut is for Muslims. When Zeina's parents don't return one afternoon from a visit to the other half of the city and the bombing grows ever closer, the neighbors in her apartment house create a world indoors for Zeina and her brother where it's comfy and safe, where they can share cooking lessons and games and gossip. Together they try to make it through a dramatic day in the one place they hoped they would always be safe--home.

A Game for Swallows Details

TitleA Game for Swallows
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseAug 1st, 2012
PublisherGraphic Universe (Tm)
ISBN-139780761385684
Rating
GenreSequential Art, Graphic Novels, Comics, Autobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, War

A Game for Swallows Review

  • Jeffrey
    January 1, 1970
    "A Game for Swallows: To Die, to Leave, to Return" didn't do much for me. It tells the story of two children spending the night in their foyer while their parents are stuck just blocks away behind the east/west barricade. Neighbors stop by, some worrying ensues, we get a backstory or two, then the graphic novel ends.Let's talk about the elephant in the room: the artistic similarities here between this graphic novel and Marjane Satrapi's "Persepolis" graphic novels. Zeina Abirached owes a lot to "A Game for Swallows: To Die, to Leave, to Return" didn't do much for me. It tells the story of two children spending the night in their foyer while their parents are stuck just blocks away behind the east/west barricade. Neighbors stop by, some worrying ensues, we get a backstory or two, then the graphic novel ends.Let's talk about the elephant in the room: the artistic similarities here between this graphic novel and Marjane Satrapi's "Persepolis" graphic novels. Zeina Abirached owes a lot to Satrapi, as the art style is really, really similar to "Persepolis." The artistic similarities, along with the narrative's perspective, make the work feel a bit too familiar. Less homage, more facsimile. As a person lacking creativity, as a non-artist, perhaps I'm being too hard, a bit too critical. I get that Satrapi can't own the whole black-and-white genre, but really, the similarities between the two go beyond the shading. With that said, Abirached's visuals lack the nuance and quiet subtleties that really made Satrapi's graphic novels. Satrapi's work is just more purposeful.Unfortunately, the story didn't move me very much either. The story starts in media res, which I think is a mistake. You never get to see the parents interact with the kids, so when the story starts there isn't an established bond. Similarly, the story's ending seems a bit rushed -- all over in about ten pages. There's just no emotional impact, and so I'm honestly quite surprised by all the high ratings here. I was hoping this could replace "Persepolis" for us as senior summer reading. It won't. Disappointed.
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  • Sesana
    January 1, 1970
    Much like I Remember Beirut, this is a graphic novel memoir of Abirached's childhood during the civil war in Lebanon. But it approaches the idea from a different perspective. I Remember Beirut was a scattered, but effective, glimpse at a difficult life through details only. A Game for Swallows is a single day in depth, which allows for more perspective, more storytelling, and more character growth. Both books are equally absorbing, and together give a much fuller idea of the life that Abirached Much like I Remember Beirut, this is a graphic novel memoir of Abirached's childhood during the civil war in Lebanon. But it approaches the idea from a different perspective. I Remember Beirut was a scattered, but effective, glimpse at a difficult life through details only. A Game for Swallows is a single day in depth, which allows for more perspective, more storytelling, and more character growth. Both books are equally absorbing, and together give a much fuller idea of the life that Abirached is trying to describe to her readers. I wish I'd read these two books together, instead of a few months apart.
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  • Shellie Foltz
    January 1, 1970
    A Game for Swallows was my first foray into a graphic texts. The subject matter seemed incongruous with the format, yet now that I’ve experienced it, I can’t imagine a better way of approaching it. The artwork is sufficiently innocent, providing a stark contrast (just as stark as the black and white pages) to the wartime setting. The author doesn’t shy away from what is going on outside the apartment and never lets you forget what is happening, but just as the characters (and I do mean character A Game for Swallows was my first foray into a graphic texts. The subject matter seemed incongruous with the format, yet now that I’ve experienced it, I can’t imagine a better way of approaching it. The artwork is sufficiently innocent, providing a stark contrast (just as stark as the black and white pages) to the wartime setting. The author doesn’t shy away from what is going on outside the apartment and never lets you forget what is happening, but just as the characters (and I do mean characters) have created their own version of reality during bombings and during ceasefires, Abirached draws you into that reality and you forget you’re sitting safe and sound holding a book. The concepts that set me to pondering were: a) the creation and recreation of “normal” through routines “organized around cease-fires” and also during bombings; b) the meanings of community and family as they play out in the story; c) the important role of memories in light of reality and uncertain futures; d) repurposing of space and evolving definitions of home, privacy, security, and family. Of course, when the characters expressed so much joy and appreciation for a washed head of lettuce, I felt horribly guilty knowing there’s a half-rotted head in my refrigerator at home. Not only was I forced to consider my wastefulness, but also my comparatively sprawling home and sometimes inhospitable attitudes. Abirached succeeded in winning me over to graphic texts and also succeeded in making me very antsy. The tension, anxiety and sadness seeped off the page and onto me like so much black ink.
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  • First Second Books
    January 1, 1970
    So beautiful and sad.
  • Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
    January 1, 1970
    The illustrations in this graphic novel are all in black and white, intense, no shades of gray, emphasizing the gravity of the situation a handful of people in an apartment building in Beirut, Lebanon, find themselves in as they wait for the snipers to stop shooting. Zeina and her little brother wait for their parents to return from a trip across town to visit their grandmother. The entire story takes place in the space of a day and night. The author bases this on her own experiences as a child The illustrations in this graphic novel are all in black and white, intense, no shades of gray, emphasizing the gravity of the situation a handful of people in an apartment building in Beirut, Lebanon, find themselves in as they wait for the snipers to stop shooting. Zeina and her little brother wait for their parents to return from a trip across town to visit their grandmother. The entire story takes place in the space of a day and night. The author bases this on her own experiences as a child during the civil war in Lebanon in 1984. What amazed me is how these people have adapted to the constant threat of violence and death. Zeina and her family are reduced to living in the foyer of their apartment, which is the safest spot, farthest from the windows. Despite the constant tension and worries, they manage to carry on some semblance of normal life, sharing meals, playing games, listening to the radio. I felt bad for these children, who should be running and playing outside and going to school. Freedom from constant fear of attack and death is something we here in the United States take for granted. Reading books like this should make us appreciate what we have and make us sympathetic to refugees from countries involved in war or civil war. Books like this should make us strive for peace in whatever way we can.Highly recommended.
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  • Farhana
    January 1, 1970
    Based on Lebanese (1975-90) civil war, this nonfiction comic offers a view in the mutual support system that people build up among themselves during war. The work is not as sharp as Marjane's Persepolis or Joe Sacco's Palestine. But I love the beautiful illustrations in rich black and white.
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  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    I think it's hard to find stories about war that are appropriate for kids. This graphic novel does a good job at showing exactly what living in a war torn country can be like.
  • Barbara McEwen
    January 1, 1970
    It was ok. The book is a memoir about being a kid during the Lebanese civil war but, not a lot actually happens. I guess I have read quite a few graphic memoirs now and this one doesn't have a lot of substance or feeling? The illustrations are quite similar to Persepolis.
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  • Barbara
    January 1, 1970
    In the same way that Persepolis touched many hearts and informed many minds about parts of the Middle East, this stunning graphic novel describes the lives of ordinary men, women, and children in war-torn Beirut, Lebanon, in 1984. Drawing from her own experience as a child, the author/illustrator describes an event that typifies how her parents and neighbors endured those challenging times when even a visit to someone a couple of streets away could result in death from a sniper. When her parents In the same way that Persepolis touched many hearts and informed many minds about parts of the Middle East, this stunning graphic novel describes the lives of ordinary men, women, and children in war-torn Beirut, Lebanon, in 1984. Drawing from her own experience as a child, the author/illustrator describes an event that typifies how her parents and neighbors endured those challenging times when even a visit to someone a couple of streets away could result in death from a sniper. When her parents are unable to return from a visit with her grandmother, Zeina and her brother wait in the foyer of their apartment building, one of the only safe spots left. One by one, their neighbors come by to chat, offer comfort, and share food with the children. All of these neighbors reveals heroic sides. The author uses only black and white panels to tell her story. It will be impossible for readers to forget the enterprising Chucri who risks his life to find Zeina's parents; the devoted Anhala, a family servant for three generations, left behind by those she served faithfully; and Ernest Challita who can quote entire passages of Cyrano de Bergerac from memory, to the delight of the children. These are the lives and everyday existences that form the basis of the stories about war and its long-reaching effects that need to be told. Imagine risking your life to get food supplies or to visit a relative. Imagine when that becomes the norm, and then imagine the alternative--hiding yourself safely away in an apartment, safe but barely living. This is the story offered here.
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  • Courtney
    January 1, 1970
    A Game for Swallows is a graphic memoir of life in Lebanon during their civil war in the '80's. Zeina and her family live in an apartment building that is situated right next to the dividing line. One night, Zeina's parents leave home to check on family members across town, risking their lives to pass through various security checkpoints and sniper territory. While the parents are out, the neighbors drop in to check on Zeina and her little brother. As time passes, more and more of the apartment' A Game for Swallows is a graphic memoir of life in Lebanon during their civil war in the '80's. Zeina and her family live in an apartment building that is situated right next to the dividing line. One night, Zeina's parents leave home to check on family members across town, risking their lives to pass through various security checkpoints and sniper territory. While the parents are out, the neighbors drop in to check on Zeina and her little brother. As time passes, more and more of the apartment's inhabitants make their way down to Zeina's apartment because the foyer there is the safest room in the building. Before long, everyone they live with is grouped together in the small room. As the bombs start falling, the adults tell the children stories and fix them food to help them keep their mind off of their absent parents. The reader learns a bit about each character and how the war has affected them. It's a sweet story and it gives the reader a bit of perspective on how everyday citizens dealt with an ongoing civil war in their own backyards. The artwork will definitely draw comparisons to the now-classic graphic memoir, Persepolis, with its bold, black-and-white illustrations. It is, however, stylistically different and well-suited to the story it tells. I wish there were more to the story. Readers not familiar with the region's troubled history will probably be left with more questions than answers. The ending feels very abrupt and anti-climatic, which is probably best for the real-life individuals involved, but not as exciting or compelling for the reader.
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  • Michelle Pegram
    January 1, 1970
    This graphic novel is the story of two young children who live with their parents in an apartment in Lebanon in 1984 during the civil war which has been going on for 9 years. They live in the foyer of their apartment because it is the place that is the safest should a bomb hit their building, and each night, as the bombings begin, their neighbors gather in their apartment for safety. The story starts on a night when their parents have not made it home from their Grandmother's house that is mere This graphic novel is the story of two young children who live with their parents in an apartment in Lebanon in 1984 during the civil war which has been going on for 9 years. They live in the foyer of their apartment because it is the place that is the safest should a bomb hit their building, and each night, as the bombings begin, their neighbors gather in their apartment for safety. The story starts on a night when their parents have not made it home from their Grandmother's house that is mere blocks away. They left an hour ago. The story weaves information about the war and the struggles of people just trying to survive the violence in with the beauty of neighbors caring for and supporting one another.The graphics are strong and appealing and the characters are intriguing. It is hard not to root for them. The reason that I did not give more than three stars is because there is not a great deal of context for the cause or scope of the war, so students would need significant instruction prior to reading in order to get the most out of this work. This could be used with middle school students and up given the right instructional context.
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  • Nicola Mansfield
    January 1, 1970
    I read the follow-up to this, "I Remember Beirut", first and enjoyed that much better. This is a single episode of a family and group of friends experiencing a bombing during the Lebanese Civil War. The story isn't political or religious. We just sit in a room with the people as they wait out the bombing and fear for two children's parents who were visiting down the street before the bombs started. An autobiographical story but I didn't find any connection with anyone and mostly found the tale u I read the follow-up to this, "I Remember Beirut", first and enjoyed that much better. This is a single episode of a family and group of friends experiencing a bombing during the Lebanese Civil War. The story isn't political or religious. We just sit in a room with the people as they wait out the bombing and fear for two children's parents who were visiting down the street before the bombs started. An autobiographical story but I didn't find any connection with anyone and mostly found the tale uninteresting and lacklustre. The art on the other hand is wonderful. I love the artist's doodling style with spirals and curlicues while the black and white sets the atmosphere.
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  • Blue
    January 1, 1970
    The story takes place during a few hours one evening when the bombing intensifies and the kids are waiting for their parents to return from their grandma's house. The houses are separated by strategically placed containers and barricades to deflect a sharp shooter's view as people need to travel from one side to the other of the artificial divide. As the children wait in the small hallway of their first-floor apartment, neighbors drop in on them, not only because the children are alone, but also The story takes place during a few hours one evening when the bombing intensifies and the kids are waiting for their parents to return from their grandma's house. The houses are separated by strategically placed containers and barricades to deflect a sharp shooter's view as people need to travel from one side to the other of the artificial divide. As the children wait in the small hallway of their first-floor apartment, neighbors drop in on them, not only because the children are alone, but also because this particular spot is the safest in the whole building from shrapnel. Indeed, the family does not live anywhere else in the apartment, just the tiny entryway. The story and the art capture the claustrophobia of war for civilians extremely well. That the outside world becomes forbidden, that fears amplify in small spaces, that a simple task like making coffee may become an act of bravery... Though similar to Satrapi's style, Abirached's art is more embellished (both are highly influenced by the centuries of Persian and Middle Eastern art). One can see influences of Assyrian, Egyptian, and Persian art, Abirached bringing us the cultures of the region like Phoenicians who used to live in what is now Beirut who transmitted culture and goods all across the Mediterranean. Abirached also has a knack for abstraction, which she usually uses to intensify the claustrophobia of every day existence inside a war zone.Overall, a brilliant and moving story of a significant day in a young girl's life in the war zone, a turning point in her life due to circumstance of conflict and disaster. Highly recommended for those who like potted plants, traffic jams, and coffee.
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  • Mehsi
    January 1, 1970
    I had expected more of this one. It did show various things from the lives of the family and friends that were present at the time the parents weren't around, and we do find out quite a bit about the situation going on in the region, yet in the end it is still so little, it just skimming the surface. The book takes place during the time that the parents weren't around (visiting grandma) til the moment the parents come back. I knew the book would be partially about that event, however I hadn't ex I had expected more of this one. It did show various things from the lives of the family and friends that were present at the time the parents weren't around, and we do find out quite a bit about the situation going on in the region, yet in the end it is still so little, it just skimming the surface. The book takes place during the time that the parents weren't around (visiting grandma) til the moment the parents come back. I knew the book would be partially about that event, however I hadn't expected that it would be the WHOLE book. I thought it would just show us that day/evening, and then also proceed to show us other days about their life in this war-zone. Such a shame. There were also other things I didn't entirely like. The art was so-so. Not entirely my favourite kind of art.
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  • Nashwa
    January 1, 1970
    One sitting was all it took! I enjoyed both the story and the artwork. Reminded me a bit of Persepolis but this just captures the story of one night of a close knit community. I read the foreword before starting and it’s interesting that a question was raised asking what exactly is the point of wars? It’s just old people sending young people to die. But in your daily life, just imagine getting from one place to another, timing your movements with a sniper. So glad I found a copy because I've bee One sitting was all it took! I enjoyed both the story and the artwork. Reminded me a bit of Persepolis but this just captures the story of one night of a close knit community. I read the foreword before starting and it’s interesting that a question was raised asking what exactly is the point of wars? It’s just old people sending young people to die. But in your daily life, just imagine getting from one place to another, timing your movements with a sniper. So glad I found a copy because I've been meaning to read this!
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  • Tanvir Muntasim
    January 1, 1970
    What is life like when you are caught in a long drawn out civil war? A memoir set in war torn Beirut, this one captures the life of a closely knit community over a shell shocked evening, and portrays ordinary people showing extraordinary courage and dignity in the face of an unending conflict. Beautifully drawn in an unorthodox way, the people sound like the ones we are surrounded by in our lives, and when you can identify them as such, it's all the more heartbreaking.
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    An interesting and beautiful portrayal of a conflict I had little knowledge of. The child's perspective was effective in conveying a mix of banality, sudden fear, and creeping dread, while also showing small pleasures. I loved the illustration style.
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  • Kitty
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent graphic novel about the Lebanese Civil War, told more or less from a child's point of view.
  • Lauren
    January 1, 1970
    Damn you, Sarah!But, it's pretty amazing that this revolved around one day and so many lives. I was glad for the update at the end.
  • Jessica Růžková
    January 1, 1970
    Economical and elegant; Abirached’s capacity to portray affinities and relationships made for a very moving reflection on the devastation that is war and loss.
  • Olavia Kite
    January 1, 1970
    I cried.
  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    Son of a GunA Game For Swallows: to die, to leave, to returnPairing and overview: “A Game For Swallows” is a memoir written by Zeina Abirached about her time in the war torn East Beirut, Lebanon. Sandbags and barrels line the streets of Zeina’s neighborhood to protect the citizens from snipers bullets. In her home, the foyer proves to be the only safe place that her family can find refuge from the violence happening outside. We join the family on a typical night. Zeina’s parents have made the da Son of a GunA Game For Swallows: to die, to leave, to returnPairing and overview: “A Game For Swallows” is a memoir written by Zeina Abirached about her time in the war torn East Beirut, Lebanon. Sandbags and barrels line the streets of Zeina’s neighborhood to protect the citizens from snipers bullets. In her home, the foyer proves to be the only safe place that her family can find refuge from the violence happening outside. We join the family on a typical night. Zeina’s parents have made the dangerous trip down the street to check on their grandmother. They have been gone much longer than they expected due to an outburst of gunfire in the streets. Zeina and her brother find comfort in their family and neighbors. These include characters such as Anhala, an older woman who is the first to check on the children. From this point, neighbors from all over the building flock to the family’s foyer for its safety. In all, we meet over six other characters who support the children during this tense time. Phones are very unreliable and it is very hard to make contact with anybody. Finally, they get word that their parents have left over an hour ago from their grandmother’s house. It should not take them this long to get home and worry sets in. The rest of the book follows the family as they try to escape their war torn community and what has become of their neighbors and friends. This book is a great reminder of the importance of family and friends in the midst of war. It is a graphic novel and was a very easy read. 2. Selection Criteria: Accuracy: Written as a memoir, this is a very accurate account of what happened to Zeina’s family during the Lebanese Civil War. The stories told about each of their neighbors are told from Zeina’s point of view, leaving some room for mistake. Authority: Zeina Abirached began her career as an illustrator and comic artist. She wrote a small black and white comic book in 2002. This is her first published book, which is a translation of her original work which was written in French. Relevance to Curriculum: This book is a great introduction to the Lebanese Civil War which spanned from 1975-1990. In World History II (1500-present), students explore the mandate system which gave control of Lebanon to the French as well as the of political, economic, social, and cultural aspects of these new “states” in the Middle East. Appropriateness: Graphic novels are gaining popularity with many students in the United States. Zeina’s decision to publish a graphic novel makes it very appropriate for young readers. Scope: Zeina’s memoir shows the struggles of her family during the Lebanese civil war. Although we only see this through the eyes of a young child, it is likely that this was the same story in apartments all over East Beirut. We also gain insight into the traditions and culture of the family and their neighbors through the pictures and conversations. Literary Merit: The illustrations in the book are amazing and support the story very well. The graphic novel format allows you to be involved in the many conversations that are going on in the tiny foyer. 3. Review source: 2013 Batchelder Honor Book4. Ordering Information:A Game For Swallows: To Die, To Leave, to ReturnZeina Abirached192 pgs.Lerner/Graphic Universe September 2012$29.27ISBN: 978-0-7613-8568-45. SOL connection: Standard WHII.11aThe student will demonstrate knowledge of political, economic, social, and cultural developments during the Interwar Period bya) describing the League of Nations and the mandate system.Standard WHII.14cThe student will demonstrate knowledge of political, economic, social, and cultural aspects of independence movements and development efforts byc) describing the end of the mandate system and the creation of states in the Middle East, including the roles of Golda Meir and Gamal Abdul Nasser.
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  • Raina
    January 1, 1970
    In war-torn Beirut, two children await the return of their parents, who left earlier in the day to visit the kids’ grandmother in an adjacent neighborhood. Set in 1984 and based on the life story of the author, this story feels like a more concise relative of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. The tale takes place almost completely during one night. We learn about Lebanon and the conflict there through the stories of the children’s neighbors, who gather in the family apartment as shells blast the st In war-torn Beirut, two children await the return of their parents, who left earlier in the day to visit the kids’ grandmother in an adjacent neighborhood. Set in 1984 and based on the life story of the author, this story feels like a more concise relative of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. The tale takes place almost completely during one night. We learn about Lebanon and the conflict there through the stories of the children’s neighbors, who gather in the family apartment as shells blast the streets outside. Physically, Abirached’s illustrations look a lot like Satrapi’s black and white blocky style. Abirached adds value by integrating several maps and the odd photograph which help provide context for the reader who might not be intimately familiar with this often overlooked country and its history. Giving the story the framework of this one night and the parade of neighbors works well as a way of getting to the meat of how it feels to live inside a conflict-ridden zone. A valuable selection for any library. \\pro reviewI've thought of this book often in the years since I read it. Real content, whimsical illustration style - It's now earned its place as a standard in the genre.Read with:Persepolis, obviouslyMost of the books on my graphic-memoir bookshelf, especially Walk, Don't Run: Growing Up Asian in Seattle Dare to Disappoint: Growing Up in Turkey Epileptic Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence, a True Story in Black and White Vietnamerica: A Family's JourneyThe Other Side of the Wall by Simon Schwartz
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  • Angela
    January 1, 1970
    In this autobiographical graphic novel set in 1984 Beirut, Zeina has only ever known the civil war raging there. She, her parents and brother live in a second-floor apartment on the demarcation line splitting Beirut into the Islamic west and Christian east. They’re constantly threatened by bombings and snipers, so the family lives in a tiny corner of the apartment, and during heavy bombings, most of the residents in the building come there, too, because it is structurally the safest place to be. In this autobiographical graphic novel set in 1984 Beirut, Zeina has only ever known the civil war raging there. She, her parents and brother live in a second-floor apartment on the demarcation line splitting Beirut into the Islamic west and Christian east. They’re constantly threatened by bombings and snipers, so the family lives in a tiny corner of the apartment, and during heavy bombings, most of the residents in the building come there, too, because it is structurally the safest place to be. Zeina’s parents are visiting her grandmother on the other side of Beirut during one of these bombings, and Zeina and her brother are left alone. Fortunately, they are not alone, because one-by-one, the neighbors join them and care for one another. The reader meets and hears the stories of each neighbor. It’s interesting to see how each person deals with the day-to-day aspects of living in a war zone, and how they accept this reality. Most have no immediate plans to leave. There’s also an overwhelming sense that nothing is ever certain. Their apartment complex could be hit with a bomb. One of them could be killed by a sniper, or simply disappear. While they’re close now, even their relationships with one another are fleeting.There isn’t much plot, but there is a lot of story. Each character enjoys some time in the spotlight, and the reader learns that person’s history and what he/she adds to the group dynamic. The book is heavy on narration, so it reads a little more slowly than other graphic novels.The pictures are all black and white, but in a style that is culturally relevant. Because they’re so different from what I’m used to seeing, I quite enjoyed the simple nature of the illustrations. They also added to the innocence of the narrator. This story is told from the point of view of a child.• No language or sexual issues• Discussion of religion—the city is divided between Muslims and Christians• Discussion of violence (bombings, snipers, kidnappings)• The characters smoke, drink, and describe alcohol (single malt, aged 16 years, etc.)
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  • Erin Reilly-Sanders
    January 1, 1970
    I really wanted to like this one, as I generally love global fiction and graphic memoirs, but I generally found the book confusing. I think I would have really enjoyed the uniqueness of the art style had it not seemed so similar to Persepolis. I think in actuality it is rather different, with many black pages with white lines as opposed to the other way around but the moderately thick curvy lines and cultural textures are somehow too reminiscent. The story switches from scene to scene in a rathe I really wanted to like this one, as I generally love global fiction and graphic memoirs, but I generally found the book confusing. I think I would have really enjoyed the uniqueness of the art style had it not seemed so similar to Persepolis. I think in actuality it is rather different, with many black pages with white lines as opposed to the other way around but the moderately thick curvy lines and cultural textures are somehow too reminiscent. The story switches from scene to scene in a rather unexpected way that isn't designated in the visuals, in comparison to Thien Pham's Sumo which nicely color codes things. I was also disappointed that despite the visual format and some great diagrams, I wasn't actually able to visualize the foyer in which most of the story takes place (especially in terms of size and layout) or how this apartment building works in three dimensions. The story tended more towards boring than tense, likely due to my confusing and the flashing back and forth between the different neighbor's lives. Unfortunately, the possible protagonists, the two children, are the least developed characters, making the book extremely difficult to figure out if it's intended for adult, juvenile, or teen audiences- never a good thing unless it manages to address all of those audiences. I think the general problem is with how the book is organized and how the story is set up. The best line "you know, I think maybe we're still more or less safe here" gets buried in the beginning. If the tension could be amped up, the story could have some powerful resonances with Anne Frank and other "one-room" tales.
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  • Angie
    January 1, 1970
    Zenia Abirached writes about her childhood in Beirut in 1984 during the height of the civil war in Lebanon. Zenia's family lived in East Beirut right on the demarcation line with West Beirut. They gradually moved into the foyer of their apartment as it was the safest place with no windows. Their days are spent trying to survive the constant bombardments and sniper attacks. One day the parents go to the grandma's house and haven't returned by evening. The children are left alone, but gradually th Zenia Abirached writes about her childhood in Beirut in 1984 during the height of the civil war in Lebanon. Zenia's family lived in East Beirut right on the demarcation line with West Beirut. They gradually moved into the foyer of their apartment as it was the safest place with no windows. Their days are spent trying to survive the constant bombardments and sniper attacks. One day the parents go to the grandma's house and haven't returned by evening. The children are left alone, but gradually the neighbors of the building congregate in the foyer. They tell stories and share food and wait for the return of those missing. I enjoyed this graphic memoir, but I think I wanted more. There isn't a lot of detail (or really any) about the war in Lebanon, what it was about, why Beirut was divided, the history that caused the split, etc. The story begins in the middle with the parents already gone so you don't really get a sense of the family or its dynamic. The neighbors are interesting, but I didn't feel like any of the characters were really fully explored. I also think the illustrations were a bit too start for the story. There wasn't enough detail to really understand exactly what was going on. The ending was a bit abrupt as well. I think the story would have been better served with more detail. I did like it though. I enjoy reading about different cultures and times in history. It is just that I know next to nothing about Lebanon or the civil war and could have used that history to flesh out the story.
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoy learning history from graphic novels/memoirs, especially parts of history that I don’t know much about. Graphic memoirs feel really personal, allowing the reader to connect to the experiences being told in an immersive way. This memoir was told in a similar style to Persepolis, which I really appreciated. This story takes place over the course of one evening of random bombings, but it offers more history through exploring the backstories of all of the members of Reina’s building. I really enjoy learning history from graphic novels/memoirs, especially parts of history that I don’t know much about. Graphic memoirs feel really personal, allowing the reader to connect to the experiences being told in an immersive way. This memoir was told in a similar style to Persepolis, which I really appreciated. This story takes place over the course of one evening of random bombings, but it offers more history through exploring the backstories of all of the members of Reina’s building. This style of storytelling allowed me to sit in a room with Reina’s family and neighbors while getting to know each member in a personal way–their backstories, their hopes, and how they survive. A quick snippet into the war in Beirut.I really enjoy learning about history from graphic novels/memoirs. It feels really personal. This is in the same style as Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood , which I really appreciated. I was invested in the safety of all of the characters. This story takes place in one evening but offers snippets into people's lives--their backstories, the hopes, and how they survive.
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  • Janine
    January 1, 1970
    This book is often compared to Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (in the NY Times and in the admittedly poor introduction to this book), and while I understand the comparison as there is a similar style, time, and theme at work, Zeina Abirached works to create a unique and beautiful story that is quite distinct from the famous Persepolis. The short graphic novella takes place in Beirut, Lebanon in the 1980's during the civil war. There are snipers stationed at roof tops that will gun down any civili This book is often compared to Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (in the NY Times and in the admittedly poor introduction to this book), and while I understand the comparison as there is a similar style, time, and theme at work, Zeina Abirached works to create a unique and beautiful story that is quite distinct from the famous Persepolis. The short graphic novella takes place in Beirut, Lebanon in the 1980's during the civil war. There are snipers stationed at roof tops that will gun down any civilian they spot and so the civilians create a method of avoiding the threat by piling up crates, bricks, and sandbags [to allow them to hide]. The plot is centred around Abirached waiting for her parents to return one night (in fear of course as the parents are at risk of being gunned down or hit by a bombshell) and how her small apartment community gathers together to share stories, cooking, and support. The artist's style is like nothing I have ever seen before, the simplicity as well as the geometrical element to some of the drawings is eye-catching and used impeccably well. I came into this book looking for something to add to my goodreads book challenge, expecting not much more than a novel reminiscent of Persepolis, but I ended up with something so much more.
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  • Lauren Slanker
    January 1, 1970
    A Game for Swallows follows the story of two young children - a brother and a sister - while they wait for the parents to return home to their small apartment. The setting takes place in Lebanon in the 1980s during the civil war. Although the book only takes place over a single night, it displays the fear and worry that families had when they were separated during that time. As the children wait, they are met by a variety of characters that live in their building. From the grandmotherly neighb A Game for Swallows follows the story of two young children - a brother and a sister - while they wait for the parents to return home to their small apartment. The setting takes place in Lebanon in the 1980s during the civil war. Although the book only takes place over a single night, it displays the fear and worry that families had when they were separated during that time. As the children wait, they are met by a variety of characters that live in their building. From the grandmotherly neighbor who bakes them food for the night to the anxious taxi driver who leaves the safety of the apartment to find the children's parents, the children find comfort in the many people who keep them company while they wait through one of the many nights in which falling bombs dominated their thoughts. Written in the style Persepolis , this graphic novel allows the readers to get a glimpse into the the lives of those affected by civil war, and to learn about the history of a country that is not often discussed in American schools.
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  • Jacoba
    January 1, 1970
    A Game for Swallows: To Die, to Leave, to Return by Zeina AbirachedGenre: MemoirFormat: Graphic NovelPlot summary:Living in the midst of civil war in Beirut, Lebanon, Zeina and her brother face an evening of apprehension when their parents do not return from a visit to the other side of the city.Considerations or precautions for readers advisory (strong language, sex, death, religious overtones, violence, etc.): Deals with war and deathReview citation (if available):Esther Keller. Library Media A Game for Swallows: To Die, to Leave, to Return by Zeina AbirachedGenre: MemoirFormat: Graphic NovelPlot summary:Living in the midst of civil war in Beirut, Lebanon, Zeina and her brother face an evening of apprehension when their parents do not return from a visit to the other side of the city.Considerations or precautions for readers advisory (strong language, sex, death, religious overtones, violence, etc.): Deals with war and deathReview citation (if available):Esther Keller. Library Media Connection May-June 2013 v31 i6 p63Section source used to find the material:YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens: 2013Recommended age:grades 5-12
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