Editorial Review: Being Authentic by Morhaf Al Achkar
A genuine glimpse into another’s life, a memoir but also a call to life and a homage to all the little details that make us who we are.
Being Authentic follows Dr. Morhaf Al Achkar's life from his childhood in Syria, through his achievements, and into the present day. The first part describes his life in Syria, and paints a picture of hard-earned successes and sorely felt disappointments and challenges – there is a seemingly deliberate juxtaposition of a child’s naiveté with the often brutal reality they exist in.
The tales of Dr. Morhaf Al Achkar's life as a child in Syria are an intriguing and contrasting collection of pleasant and not-so-pleasant reminiscences. From quaint stories of familial connection to recounting feuds that ended in murder. Childhood moments like the new television arriving as well as descriptions of terrible abuses of power. Innocent play with friends contrasted with the daily struggles of being a child under the regime. However, none of these tales seem superfluous nor are any gratuitous in their depictions of violent episodes – each story has a particular role in the greater story.
The second part describes his life in the United States - the practicalities as well as the life-changing moments. Throughout his life, Dr. Morhaf Al Achkar has faced a great many things – political activism, academic success, medical woes - and has come out the other side of each of them a little changed but perhaps more himself. Faced with death even before COVID-19 disrupted the world, this memoir throws light onto the philosophies of life that Dr. Morhaf Al Achkar seems to hold dear - fairness, caring, and authenticity.
The self-awareness in this memoir is almost jolting, the author regularly relates stories that others may be tempted to suppress – times when their family connections helped, the acknowledged privilege of having a support network for their studies in the United States, or when the desire for material objects overwhelmed their sense of fairness. The discovery of philosophy had a major impact on the author's life, and this appreciation for philosophical and critical thinking emanates from this book from beginning to end. Being Authentic reads easily, the writing style is emotive and engaging which results in a memoir that feels like a conversation with a particularly friendly stranger. The effect is a wonderful book that imparts as much a life story as it does lessons learned and a philosophy for the future.
Avid readers of biographies will enjoy this conversational and easy-to-read memoir, and it will prove interesting for those who are simply curious about the lives and experiences of other people.
A memoir to help you discover the life of another person as well as look at your own life, and ask yourself if you are living authentically.