Chuck places second in Canada Reads 2019 as an advocate for the book ‘Homes’

Only one single vote decided the fate of this year’s edition of the Canada Reads battle of the books, in which in a series of discussions, one books is eventually named the book that all of Canada should read and some of its profits are then forwarded to charities involved in the literary field. It was a duel between two panelists – Ziya Tong, who advocated for ‘By Chance Alone’ by Max Eisen, which delved into his own story as an Auschwitz concentration camp survivor, and Chuck Comeau, who’s chosen book was ‘Homes’ by a Syrian refugee in Canada Abu Bakr al Rabeeah and his teacher Winnie Yeung, who helped him tell the story of his family’s escape from the civil war torn country.

The final debate took place yesterday in Toronto, Canada and it was a very hard-fought battle from all sides. Luckily, during the debates, both remaining panelists once again received some words of encouragement from some important people – for Chuck it was first Hafedh Al Rabeeah, the father of Abu Bakr al Rabeeah, who thanked Chuck for taking an interest in his son’s book and helping him in this way and the second voice message for Chuck was then left by his own wife Jacqueline and his son London, who wished him all the best in his debating efforts. If you want to hear these messages, you can head over to mark 30:21 of the video below.

In the end, after all panelists have cast their votes and after the first two votes of the already eliminated panelists went to each of the remaining advocates, it was up to Yanic Truesdale to cast the final, deciding vote. Unfortunately for Chuck, Yanic decided to change his mind in the end, stating that while he came to the finale, thinking he would be voting for Homes to win, the final words of Ziya Tong, in which expressed her wish for people to read her chosen book because generation of people like Max Eisen will not be with us much longer and this is own of the last true accounts of Holocaust we will ever be able to read, made him vote differently – against ‘Homes’..

‘By Chance Alone’ by Max Eisen, advocated by Ziya Tong, has then become the winner of Canada Reads 2019.

Check out the full recording of the final debate below:

After Chuck’s loss, he headed over to Twitter to express his thoughts about the competition and uged people to still make sure to pick up ‘Homes’ in their bookshop to help spread the word about acceptance of the Muslim culture in our society:

“Very disappointed and crushed I couldn’t get the job done on Canada Reads and secure a victory for my incredible book ‘Homes’. I’m sorry to everyone who loved the book so passionately even more importantly, to the authors, Winnie and Bakr, and their families. I tried my best. I urge everyone to pick up this book and discover this amazing story of hope, love, courage and resilience. My wish is that despite our loss today, it keeps on reaching more people and keeps on opening people’s minds and hearts. This is the book we need right now. Thank you to my fellow panelists Ziya Tong, Joe Zee, Lisa Ray and Yanic Truesdale for an incredible week and a life-changing experience. Thank you to Ali Hassan and the entire CBC Books team as well. You were all phenomenal.”

– Chuck Comeau –