Wednesday 24 November 2021

Book ~ "Peace by Chocolate" (2020) Jon Tattrie

From Goodreads ~ Tareq Hadhad was worried about his father: Isam did not know what to do with his life. Before the war began in Syria, Isam had run a chocolate company for over twenty years. But that life was gone now. The factory was destroyed and he and his family had spent three years in limbo as refugees before coming to Canada. So, in an unfamiliar kitchen in a small town, Isam began to make chocolate again.

This remarkable book tells the extraordinary story of the Hadhad family - Isam, his wife Shahnaz, and their sons and daughters - and the founding of the chocolatier, Peace by Chocolate. From the devastation of the Syrian civil war, through their life as refugees in Lebanon, to their arrival in a small town in Atlantic Canada, Peace by Chocolate is the story of one family. It is also the story of the people of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, and so many towns across Canada, who welcomed strangers and helped them face the challenges of settling in an unfamiliar land. 

The Hadhad family lived in war torn Syria.  Patriarch Isam had started a chocolate factory when he was a young man and grew it into a beloved business for over 20 years.  The building was bombed as was their home so the family fled to Lebanon to be safe.  From there, for the next three years they tried to figure out what to do next.  An opportunity arose to head to Canada.

In the meantime, the residents of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, wanted to help the refugees of Syria and started raising money so they could bring families to Antigonish and help them get a fresh start.  The Hadhad family was one of the families that benefited from their help.  In 2016, Tareq was the first of the Hadhad children to arrive in Antigonish.  The rest of his family eventually got permission to join him and start a new life.

Isam had lost so much and it took a while to get his groove back.  He started making chocolates in their kitchen and giving them out to show his appreciation.  This led to him selling chocolates at farmers' markets and eventually he started and Tareq his business again, which they called Peace by Chocolate.  The business is now one of the larger employers in the area and Tareq has become an international spokesperson of peace.

I went to university in Antigonish and lived there for four years afterwards (I moved to Toronto in 1987) so this story was a bit more near and dear to my heart.  I loved that the residents of Antigonish banded to together to help families that were so different from them but needed help.

I liked the writing style ... the author kept it high level but the heartfelt emotions still came through.  It's so nice to see a family that had so much and then lost it has been able to get back on their feet again and help and be appreciative of their new community.

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