April 20, 2017

Bana al-Abed just landed a book deal, but I bet she’d give it up for peace in Syria


Bana al-Abed first tweeted on September 24, 2016. She simply wrote, “I need peace.”

At the tender age of seven, Bana has lived the vast majority of her life in the now infamous war zone of Aleppo, Syria. You know, the Aleppo that got famous for a Sarin gas attack, and which subsequently has been gassed and bombed with Chlorine numerous times, as well as god-knows-how-much assorted shrapnel. When Bana started tweeting, all she wanted to do was inform the world of what was happening there and make a child’s plea for salvation. Her early tweets show photographs of phosphorus bombs, cluster bombs, nearby homes on fire, and her own process for coping with the violence:

Simon & Schuster announced last week that they had signed a book deal with the empathy wunderkind, after her almost seven months of tweeting. In a statement from her publisher, Bana wrote, “I am so happy to have this opportunity to tell my story and the story of what has happened in Aleppo to the world. I hope my book will make the world do something for the children and people of Syria and bring peace to children all over the world who are living in war.”

As the New York Times’ Rick GladstoneMegan Specia, and Sydney Ember reported in December of last year, there were some early doubts about the authenticity of the tweets. There were haters, accusers, and conspiracy theorists all calling the account a hoax. There was even a faux-scandal where a doctored photo of one of Bana’s tweets seemed to say that she supported the purchase of F-35 fighter planes. Further hate came from people that thought her tweets were too sophisticated and written by her mother, an English teacher herself who has taught Bana.

Not many have seemed to put stock in the controversies. It’s not so outlandish for a child to want to stop war, after all. And there have been independent parties working to validate Bana and her mother’s identities.

In a short time, Bana has earned fans all of the world, including the likes of JK Rowling, who sent her copies of the Harry Potter books. Bana is less friendly with Putin, Assad, Trump, and others that she sees as perpetuating the violence. The main message, though, has remained the same regardless of whom she addresses: peace for all.

Even on the day that her book deal was announced, an event that for any other person would be the biggest in their life, Bana only sent one tweet about the upcoming book. Shortly after, she continued on her mission, tweeting:

She sounds like a pretty cool kid to me.



Peter Clark is a former Melville House sales manager.