The Road to Chlifa

by Michele Marineau, Susan Ouriou,
144 pages,
ISBN: 0889951292

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Children's Books
by Deborah Wandal

Dedicated to the children of war, the story follows a Lebanese teenager, Karim, as he escapes war-torn Beirut, travels a dangerous route over the mountains to Chlifa, and then on to Montreal and a new life. But this journey and time-line is completely fractured within the novel, because Karim himself is unable to move on with his life. His bizarre behaviour in his Montreal high school¨self-imposed isolation interspersed with incomprehensible (over)reactions¨is rooted deep within the horrific escape experiences he is still reliving. Using Karim's diaries, another teenager's first person perspective on Karim, as well as a regular narrative format, the story weaves back and forth in time and across viewpoints, until Karim can find a way to move on and leave behind a past filled with death: "I don't have a monopoly on unhappiness." Good dialogue amongst the students on, handling cultural conflicts, being uprooted and making compromises.

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