McCormick met Asad "a day or two after Trump announced his
travel ban." He was an editor for an American magazine then,
assigned to cover Africa when he read an article in New
York Times Magazine that was written "by a young man who
had grown up in Dadaab." It never occurred to McCormick that
the writer was "still... stranded in the camp."
Stranded physically, but not in his mind.
Ever since he was small, Asad had dreamed of getting a good
education. As a child, he'd eagerly taken advantage of
whatever formal schooling was offered at Dadaab. He devoured
all printed material he could find and he seized every
opportunity he could get to learn, becoming largely
self-taught. Still, though Asad experienced a discouraging
avalanche of educational setbacks in his lifetime, his
tenacity attracted supporters and McCormick soon became one
of them. It hadn't been easy, but it had finally appeared
that a near-miracle was in sight and Asad's dream might be
possible in America. With no personal paperwork and no
country as anchor, would the travel ban – "an executive
order... that changed everything" – put a stop to the
Open the newspaper, click on the news, and you'll probably
hear about immigration in pretty short order these days. You
have opinions. Now read Beyond the Sand and Sea.
Step in, and that sand isn't pleasant: author Ty McCormick
writes of its relentlessness, the heat, the squalor of camp
and danger of war, a destructive rainy season. Or might sand
be a metaphor for grit? Surely, that could be true for the
laser-focused Asad, and more so with Asad's
tougher-than-steel sister, Maryan, a woman who threw aside
cultural laws to save her family. She's a big presence in
this story, and you'll wish it was bigger.
Alas, the sea is choppy and so is the last half of this
book. Not to be a spoiler, but it's a whirlwind of Asad's
more recent past and his future and despite that it's
inspirational, it's also uneven. Pay attention to the
time-frame on chapter headings; that helps.
The inspiration, though: don't miss it. Don't pass up a
chance to be thrilled. If you need a book that'll make you
stand up and cheer, Beyond the Sand and Sea is just