The Beekeeper of Aleppo
by Christy Lefteri


West Maui Book Club Discussion Questions

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Any page numbers refer to iPad edition.

1. Many of us living in America don’t personally know what it’s like to live as a refugee. In what ways did this story enlighten, frighten, or otherwise convince or sway you into a deeper understanding?

2. The author notes she wrote this book to answer the question: What does it mean to see? She also wanted to explore the “internal conflicts, the way memory is affected, the way we are with the people we care about most in the world when we have suffered so much loss that we are broken.” Her intent was “to set forth the idea that among profound, unspeakable loss, humans can still find love and light—and see one another.” Discuss what it means “to see,” while also touching on how the story made you “see others.” Have you seen love and light during times of unspeakable loss?

3. What, if anything, did you learn about bees?

4. For analogy sake, can you “see” how Mustafa’s and Nuri’s journeys are similar to the life of bees with their straying so far from home with the hope of one day returning to it? Quote: “The bees were an ideal society, a small paradise among chaos. The worker bees traveled far and wide to find food, preferring to go to the furthest fields.” 2nd quote by Mustafa in a letter to Nuri: “People are not like bees. We do not work together, we have no real sense of a greater good—I’ve come to realize this now.”

5. What do you make of this quote: “But in Syria there is a saying: inside the person you know there is a person you don’t know.”

6. There is much tenderness within Nuri’s and Afra’s mourning of their only son, Sami, but can we talk briefly about the significance of Nuri placing his hand on his wife’s chest between her breasts before sleeping so he could feel her heartbeat? What did this mean to him? What does it mean to you?

7. Stylistically, what did you think of one chapter pivoting into the next on a single word that slung you in new territory?

8. Do you know the location of the island of Farmakonisi? According to Wikipedia, its 2001 census claimed 74 inhabitants. Its 2011 only 10. It’s located off Tukey’s western coast and measures a scant 1.48 square miles. It also, according to a 12/15/2015 alert by, is reportedly a human-rights violation location.

9. By the end of the novel, Mustafa has come to collect Nuri and Afra, who is also beginning to see shapes, shades, and color again. Is this a sign of her healing? If so, what signs does Nuri show of his, if any?

10. Have you looked at the many directions the Syrian refugees have taken? If not, go to the 2015 story and map at

11. How has today's Syrian refugee situation changed?


Questions compiled by: Elaine Gallant
West Maui Book Club
Oct. 2019