Friday, August 29, 2014

WAR KIDS (A Syrian Story) #Excerpt by H J Lawson @hjlawson1 #AmReading #YA

Chapter 1 - JADA

“Wake up. Run.”

Jada wake up! I scream in my head.

Bracing myself, I take a deep breath and millions of tiny molecules fly up my nostrils and down my throat. What is this familiar taste? It reminds me of when I was young and played with chalk.

Where am I?

A cold shiver runs over my body as questions flood my mind. What happened? Why do I feel like I’m covered in dust? Father never trained me for this… are they going to kidnap me the same way they did him?

I’m terrified to see what awaits me. But I force myself to open my eyes. In a flash, like a lightning bolt, I see the unthinkable horror in front of me.

A blurred image of a young boy stands trembling at the end of my hospital bed, his bewildered face covered in dust and tears. I can see his dazzling white teeth as he screams... Why can’t I hear him? Oh my God, what has happened to the poor child? Where is his mother?

Where is mine? Why can’t I hear anything… is this real or a crazy nightmare?

I frantically look around for my mother, but I don’t see her anywhere.

Mother where are you?

With a sheet of gray dust over my face, it reminds me of when my mother and I would play dress up and she would add blush to my cheeks. I wish I could go back to those happier times, before the war, to when I could just be a child.

But those times have gone.

The gray walls of the hospital are like a snowy day in the city, yet they crumble in front of my eyes. A blaring light fights against the protective cover of the few blind slats on the window that survived the attack. Where is the light coming from? It’s the middle of the night! Is my mind playing tricks on me?

The smell of death is all around me.

As I shift uneasily on the bed, the plastic material squeaks against my sticky, sweaty skin. No! I have to stay quiet and not draw attention to myself.

I look at the bed next to me. The overhead light has fallen down, and sparks are flying from the ceiling. I see the same dusty gray layer, but it is turning blood-red. An elderly man is slumped over.

As the light continues to flash, I see him more clearly.

He has large, overgrown eyebrows on his small wrinkled face, and there is blood seeping through his clothes. He is dying right in front of me.

We stare at each other, frozen in shock. Not daring to speak, his dark eyes hold my gaze. His thin, straight lips start to slowly part. Fear floods through me. I shake my head and plead at him with my eyes.

Please don’t make a sound!

The old man’s eyebrows rise up, and he silently mouths, “Run.” The hairs on the back my neck prickles to the rhythm of my terrified heart, but I remain still, too afraid to move.

Someone help me, anyone! I cannot do this!

I have to move… get out of here before they get me. I slowly shift myself to the edge of the bed.  My legs are numb, and my toes are tingling. My body is weak, but I have to stay strong.

As I look down on the floor beside me, where my feet are about to land, I see a dust-covered body. It is the caring lady doctor, the one who was looking after me. Faith. I can see glimpses of her golden strands of hair through the soot.

Not Faith!

I remember her soft voice as I faded in and out of consciousness, and the blurred image of her peering over me like a beautiful angel, telling me everything would be okay and that she would protect me. Tears pour down my face as I gaze at her now lifeless body.

Suddenly the silence is broken by the sounds of screaming. I cover my ears to block the unbearable noise. Screaming everywhere, all around me.

This is not a dream; this is a true- life nightmare.

Light beams hit my face, and a door open. As my eyes adjust, I begin see the shadows in the doorway.

I can't stay. I have no choice.

Soldiers are standing in the doorway, a sea of blue helmets with sage and brown camouflage, with black jackets projecting their heartless bodies, their faces covered by gas masks. Their belts bulge with water bottles. I'm so thirsty for just one tiny drop…get the taste of chalk out of my mouth.

Big black boots stand amongst the debris, sturdy, confident. Each soldier holds one hand over the long barrel of a gun, the other over the trigger. Poised, ready.  My heart skips another beat.

There are too many of them. Even if I had my gun, I wouldn’t be able to kill them all. But maybe enough to make a run for it…

My father was teaching me how to use a gun before he was kidnapped over a year ago, when I was thirteen. All I wanted to do was stay in bed and cry, but Mother dragged me out and forced me to continue. I lashed out at her and begged her to leave me to grieve for my father, but she insisted.
I’m a perfect shot now.

“Run, child, run!” the dying man screams to me.

I leap off the bed and land on Faith.

“Ouch!” she grunts.

Oh my God… She’s alive!

As I crouch down beside her, the sounds of footsteps get closer.

“Faith, I'm so sorry… are you okay? What's happening?” I gasp.

“Run!” she yells. “RUN!”

I jump up and grab the bewildered young boy in front of me. The soldiers are coming; they are bloody coming!

“Come on, we have to get out of her,” I say to him.

A soldier reaches out and grabs the child’s arm.

“Ouch!” he cries.

“Get off him!” It feels like a golf ball is in my mouth. I stutter as I squeal, and the boy’s eyes look like they’re going to explode.

“Leave him alone; you are hurting him!”

But the solider is too strong and continues to pull. With one fast swoop, the boy is out of my hand and the solider picks him up in his arms.

The child screams and thrashes his arms and legs in a violent rage.

“Leave him alone!”  I shout again.

“Kid, we’re here to help! I mean you no harm,” the solider informs me as he marches away.

Here to help?! Does he think I’m crazy?

The room begins to spin, my mind cannot handle this. Oh God, they’re moving forward, they soldiers are coming from me now!

I turn away from them and start to run without looking back.  I have no choice. There is nothing else I can do.

I have to keep moving… it’s the only way to get out of here alive. Bodies are strewn everywhere, some small and wrapped in blankets. All covered with the gray dust.

What the hell is going on?!


Hayley Lawson is the author of War Kids. She has written a young adult contemporary novel set in Syria; a story about the Syrian Civil war though the eyes of children.

She was born in Lancaster, England. Growing up in a single parent household with five other siblings; was hard, and also character building.

As a young child she found a passion for drawing, and continued this into adulthood, graduating from the University of Central Lancashire, England with a BA(Hons) in fashion design.

At aged twenty seven, Hayley and her husband packed up their belongings for a lifelong dream to move to California. Her America dream was complete with the birth of her daughter. Her love for traveling, continued after the birth of her daughter traveling around America with the family, and the best travelled dog.
A new job positioned opened up New York, and the family decide to relocate to Long Island, NY, which is where she currently resides.

On August 21 she was moved by the images of the Syrian conflict, and embarked on an unlikely journey of writing her first novel.


All profits from the book will be going to the save the children charity.

When fourteen-year-old Jada wakes up in a hospital, the last thing she thinks is that her life has completely changed forever. But when the very real civil war forces her to flee from every open space, she must use the firearm skills her father taught her to reunite with him and protect herself. Armed with a single gun and a key to an unknown locker, Jada crosses Syria on a journey with a group of children called the Fearless Freedom Fighters. With the leader, Zak, they mount a plan to rescue their fathers while they try to cope with the merciless murders of their families. As Jada and Zak lead the group together, love blossoms, but with soldiers hot on their tail, they need to stay vigilant in the face of war.

Reviews from wattpad
Very interesting story, very powerful. I can really feel the emotion...Peter

This book really touches my heart because there is so much truth is in this book. The detail is so brilliantly displayed, its beautifuly written. There are pretty intense chapters, its good... scrap that its excellent. Loe the work ...although I am upset. I know this is a fictional story, but I just can't help but feel extremely bad for all the lost lives especially the innocent and young ones...Saddy

A REMARKABLE BOOK, DEMANDS TO BE READ Goodreads review from Joe Eliseon

Buy Now @ Amazon | Smashwords | CreateSpace
Genre - Young Adult 
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with H J Lawson on Facebook & Twitter


  1. I have always wondered about kids surviving in Syria. I am adding this book to my reading list. Thanks!


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