I picked up this book to better understand what is happening in Syria right now; I didn't realize it would be such an effortless, intriguing, beautiful read. I actually learned much more about Iraq than I did Syria, as the story follows refugees from the 2003 Iraq War who flee the crumbling civic institutions there for Syria - and one in particular, a woman named Ahlam, a "fixer" for international journalists and human rights organizations. Because the author, Deborah Campbell, has decided to personalize her account of travelling to Damascus and meeting Ahlam, the story is so much richer and relatable than it would be otherwise. Campbell gives the kind of detail about Damascus that allows the reader to feel at home in the book, while not weighing it down with too much description. This is non-fiction, but the narrative style makes it as smooth as any novel. A favourite read of the year.