In The Good Deed, Helen Benedict offers a stark, powerful portrait of women on opposite sides of a refugee camp in Greece: the refugees trapped inside, and the troubled American tourist whose good intentions morph into a dangerous delusion, resulting in a poignant, layered novel on displacement and belonging, love and betrayal, and the jagged space between altruism and egoism.
Drawing from four years of interviews with refugees on Samos, along with twelve previous years of work on the Iraq War, Benedict has written The Good Deed as a series of lyrical, intensely felt alternating voices, following these women’s everyday lives in the camp, as well each of their backstories—stories of families, love, secrets, violence, war, and flight. When Hilma, the American, unwittingly does a “good deed,” she triggers a crisis that brings her and the refugee women into a conflict that escalates dramatically as each character struggles for what she needs.
In essence, The Good Deed is about the struggle never to lose hope, even in the face of war and the world’s hostility to refugees; the complexities that arise out of trying to help others; the healing power of friendship; and the everlasting bonds between mothers and children.
“Written with immense sensitivity and depth of knowledge and understanding, The Good Deed is an essential read of our times. It is captivating, revealing, and insightful. It is vividly and beautifully written, taking us to the heart of these women’s experiences, their external and internal journeys, showing us the reality of what it means to be a refugee, the devastation, the loss and trauma, but also strength and resilience. This is a must read! It should be on everybody’s bookshelf. It bought tears to my eyes and hope to my heart.”
—Christy Lefteri, author of Songbirds and The Beekeeper of Aleppo