Manhattan Book Review

Where the Sun Rises
By Suzanne Strong
Green Acre Publishing, $13.95, 271 pages, Format: eBook

Where the Sun Rises is a novel told from alternating viewpoints of two childhood friends: Karin and Roza. The story begins in 2014 when the Islamic State, ISIS, or Daesh, as some choose to call them in protest, begin to invade the city of Kobane, in the Kurdish region of Syria. It’s a heartwrenching story of two women who give up everything to protect their families and the land that they love. Both Karin and Roza individually join the YPJ (Women’s Protection Unit) of the YPG, the Kurdish people’s militia to fight against ISIS. They reunite at a training camp for the YPJ.

Both women face heartbreaking losses and choose to fight for the YPJ out of fierce love for their families and the place they call home. Karin is studying to be a doctor, and Roza is a former English teacher and mother to a six-year-old. This novel traces the journey two highly educated young women take to become tough, skillful militia fighters. It also provides insight into how the women fighters are trained and how they are as fierce fighters as the men.

The civil war in Syria has many facets, and Where the Sun Rises opens a door to the perspective of the Kurdish people living in Syria. Reading it helped me realize how little I know about Kurdistan, Syria, and the geopolitics of the region. Although Karin and Roza’s story is fictional, I can easily imagine how many real-life women have similar stories. Karin and Roza’s courage will catch you and make you wonder at their ability to persevere. They are ordinary women who respond to extraordinary circumstances.

I cried throughout this story, and what I took from the ending was that we all have the ability to fight for what we love when the situation demands it, though the cost we pay is very high.”

New Reviews – Where the Sun Rises…

Sunrise in Kobane, Syria.

A story of devastating loss and ultimate triumph

“This is a war story unlike any I’ve read. Thoroughly researched with easy to read prose, I was initially intrigued by a story about female soldiers: what makes vibrant young women risk everything by taking up arms and leaving families already decimated by war? As each woman is drawn into the conflict we learn more about them: their culture, their land, their history and yes, why they take up arms. While we learn about how they train and fight, this was not the highlight for me. With each new chapter I was drawn deeper into the lives of these truly courageous women bravely confronting the horrors of ISIS. Together they suffer devastating losses but also experience the deepest love of friendship, sisterhood and sacrifice. The story builds to a tragic climax of seemingly senseless loss that will bring tears to many readers (as it did for me). But the final chapters show us the results of all they suffered, made all the more poignant by the historical truth it’s based on. My life is richer having read this novel. Definitely recommend it!” 

Amazon Customer

“A great account of what the Kurdish women and men achieved against a vile enemy. Not just a book about conflict but the conflicts that these women faced. A book that well documented the human struggles of all wars. I highly recommend it to all modern history buffs.”

Angus McGeachie