Book review: A Hope More Powerful Than The Sea By Melissa Fleming


A Hope More Powerful Than The Sea By Melissa Fleming (first published in 2017 by Little, Brown)

About the book:

Doaa and her family leave war-torn Syria for Egypt where the climate is becoming politically unstable and increasingly dangerous. 

She meets and falls in love with Bassem, a former Free Syrian Army fighter and together they decide to leave behind the hardship and harassment they face in Egypt to flee for Europe, joining the ranks of the thousands of refugees who make the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean on overcrowded and run-down ships to seek asylum overseas and begin a new life. 

After four days at sea, their boat is sunk by another boat filled with angry men shouting threats and insults. With no land in sight and surrounded by bloated, floating corpses, Doaa is adrift with a child’s inflatable water ring around her waist, while two little girls cling to her neck. Doaa must stay alive for them. She must not lose strength. She must not lose hope.


As soon as I read the synopsis for this book I immediately thought of Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys. A book that was inspired by “the single greatest tragedy in maritime history” that took place in 1945.

While reading A Hope More Powerful than the Sea, I couldn’t fathom that these stories are still being told more than 70 years later. Shouldn’t we be better? Why are there people in this world who are still suffering through these horrifying circumstances?

These are just some of the questions that cropped up for me. Because Doaa was a girl, just like me; the single thing separating us was that we were born in different parts of the world. It felt deeply personal to me.

A Hope More Powerful than the Sea is a breathtakingly sad read. Sad, in a way, that will leave you feeling utterly ashamed of how far the world has sunk while we’ve been looking the other way. It ignited such raw emotion that I’m still not able to shake. 

I was left feeling utterly disturbed and unsettled. When a book makes you question everything you thought you understood and alters your perception so significantly, you know it’s done the job. I just hate that this is a true story – a reality to so many. And it numbs my soul to think that countless similar stories out there will be lost forever.

Given the world’s current political climate, I believe this is such an important book. It provides back story to what’s happened in Syria, as well as so many other Middle Eastern countries whose people are being turned away and ostracized. 

They are cast out and shunned after running for their lives, uprooting their families and leaving their homes behind. The idea of people having to give up so much for basic human rights seems preposterous. Yet it happens all the time; in this day and age.

Doaa’s story will melt away any ideas you might have had about this subject, and it will offer insight into the plights of people trying to survive the life that was handed to them. It is not an easy book to read. It’s draining and heavy and deals with issues you’ll find hard to ignore once the final page has been turned. 

But it will leave you with a sense of hope, and a burning ball of need to make a change in your own life. A change to help others and a will to leave the world a little bit better than the state in which you found it. 

And after the gut wrenching agony and unthinkable events which lead to this story, I think that’s an unbelievably powerful sentiment to be left with…

Read this book. I implore you to read Doaa’s story; if only to educate yourself on a subject that’s been pushed under the rug for far too long.

WATCH: Melissa Fleming – a refugee’s story

Read more of Nihaad’s reviews on her book blog.

Purchase a copy of the book from
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