Elizabeth Laird’s Welcome to Nowhere is a story of Omar, a twelve-year-old boy, and his family in Bosra, Syria. Set in more peaceful times, the plot revolves around Omar, who has no care for politics and only wants to grow up to be a successful businessman. However, when his older brother Musa gets mixed up with young political activists, Omar’s world comes crashing down. The story follows Omar and his family as they find themselves in the midst of political turmoil and battle to survive.
Laird, who has worked with refugees in Jordan in 2015, does wonders with the plot of the story. With dwelling on the details for too long, she manages to keep the novel pacey and yet coherent. Her characters, not too perfect, are relatable – Omar, who only cares about his dreams, Musa – an intelligent rebel, and Eman – a girl who only wants to break out the patriarchal shackles she is bound by. The reader may at times feel that the characters do not grow as much as the plot progresses but that can be forgiven for the strong development of the story. All in all, the book makes for gripping read – once you start reading, you won’t be able to put it down till you find out the family’s fate.