Alpha: Abidjan to Gare du Nord by Bessora (Illustrated by Barroux)


“a searing tale of our time”
Michael Morpurgo

Alpha Coulibaly sets off from his home in Côte d’Ivoire, bound for Paris, where his sister-in-law has a hair salon near the Gare du Nord. Alpha’s wife Patience and son Badian left for Paris months ago, travelling without visas, and he has heard nothing from them since. He carries their photograph close to his heart as he crosses the continent and meets other ‘adventurers’ seeking a better life.

Alpha is emblematic of the refugee crisis today – just one of millions on the move, at the mercy of people traffickers, endlessly frustrated, endangered and exploited as he attempts to rejoin his family, already in Europe. With a visa, Alpha’s journey would take a matter of hours; without one he is adrift for eighteen months. Along the way he meets an unforgettable cast of characters, each one giving another human face to the crisis. The book is presented in graphic novel format, with artwork created in cheap felt-tip pen and wash, materials Alpha himself might be able to access.

How did I get the book? Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review

Genre: Contemporary

Review: Quite honestly I spent days trying to figure out how to write a review for Alpha and I still don’t know. Emotionally it’s a story that had left me raw, especially the epilogue which just felt like being punched again.

I really want people to read Alpha but I can’t write that it’s beautiful or inspiring. The art is a reflection of the story, it’s grey and bleak. As reader you want there to be hope, something to make all the things Alpha goes through to be worth it. It’s what keeps Alpha and the reader going.

This is a story that I feel people should/need to read. It won’t make you feel happy. It’ll probably make you feel uncomfortable. But that’s a good thing.

Recommend it?


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