Twenty-three per cent. That’s the percentage of Syrian refugee girls who have become child brides – some as young as nine – since the crisis in that country started. It’s a number that has stuck with me since reading Escape from Syria, a graphic novel by Samya Kullab and illustrated by Jackie Roche.

The story itself isn’t true, but it’s based on numerous stories heard by Kullab when the author was reporting on Syrian refugees for the English-Lebanese newspaper, the Daily Star in 2013, the third year of the civil war.

In Lebanon, more than a million refugees have entered the country, about one-fifth of that country’s population.

I don’t blame the Lebanese government for the choices being made. They opened their borders for people who were being killed by their own government, but at the same time they need to ensure enough resources for their people.

I am not sure the solution, which makes reading Escape from Syria hard – how can we help these people who have had to make such difficult choices in order to barely survive? How can we make their lives better?

I have always unclear about the Syrian civic war, and Escape from Syria certainly helped that. I learned about what life was like in Syria before the civic war as well as what it is like to live in these refugee camps and how desperate families are to escape.

Through the graphic novel, we meet Amina and her family – her parents and her brother – and through them we see the hunger, sadness and desperation to escape. We learn why children are being forced into marriage (to protect them and ensure they have enough to eat).

Escape from Syria was a powerful book that gives a great overview of this crisis and what these families are going through. At the end of the book, the author provides real photographs and more information about real-life events that were featured in the graphic novel.

I highly recommend this book so people can have an understanding of what our Syrian neighbours went through before they arrived in our country. The book also helps us understand what continues to take place countries that may be far away, but whose people are not that much different from ourselves.

Escape from Syria is A Firefly Book is $9.95.

A copy of Escape from Syria was provided by A Firefly Book for an honest review. The opinions are my own.