Genre: Contemporary Fiction and Political/Interracial Romance
Cover Design: Pink Ink Designs by Cassy Roop
Anissa is traumatized by the most brutal conflict of the 21st Century: the Syrian Civil War. In 2012, Islamists in Homs terrorize a Syrian-Christian community and destroy everything that a young woman holds dear. Narrowly escaping death, Anissa restarts her devastated life as a college student in NY. She is bewildered and lost -- a virgin in every sense.
But despite her inexperience with men and life in the United States, Anissa is quickly drawn to two powerful individuals: Michael Kassab, the Syrian-American leader working to found the first Mideast Christian state, and Julien Morales, her Columbia University professor who runs a $20 billion hedge fund.
Complicating matters, Michael is still attached to his ex-girlfriend and Julien is the most sought after bachelor in Manhattan (and has hidden demons even his therapist can't extract). Anissa's heart and her communal ties pull her in different directions, as she seeks hope and renewal in a dark world.
WARNING: This book is about a young woman's difficult journey: her escape from Syria's Civil War, her transition to a new a country, and the relationships that she forms along the way, including her romantic interests in two very different men. The story is set against the backdrop of the Syrian Civil War and makes reference to violent acts, sometimes in detail. There is some occasional profanity and a few scenes that depict sexual intimacy. Accordingly, the recommended minimum age for readers is 16. The novel might be compared to books like "The Diary of Anne Frank" or "The Kite Runner."
We were peacefully rallying for our cause, when some strangers accosted me and started to debate us. But then it became clear that they didn’t really want to debate as much as harass . One of them then spat on me and tore up my sign, and then, as I was wiping off his spit from my face, I saw the placard in Michael’s left hand fall to the grass, as his right hand closed into an angry fist. Then I saw his clenched hand barrel thunderously from his side until it landed smack on the nose of the giant guy who had spat on me. I actually heard the thud of the impact, and the man just collapsed to the ground from the force of Michael’s blow. He was out cold.
“Come on, shitheads – who’s next?!” Michael shouted at the first two counter- protestors, gesturing them to step up for a fight. By then, their entire group had gathered around, so Michael was even more outnumbered. But his dangerous rage was palpable – as if he alone could destroy everyone there. More of our protesters also started showing up, after hearing or seeing the commotion. But they weren’t needed in the end. The counter-protestors there raised their hands in surrender and backed away in fear of this large man who just knocked out an even larger man with a single punch. “OK, OK, take it easy. We’re leaving,” they said.
“Apologize to her. Now!” he boomed, ready to rip them to shreds. The first two protesters looked at me meekly.
“We’re sorry… We’re sorry, ma’am, that our friend got out of hand.”
“Yeah, he shouldn’t have done that.”
“Now get the fuck out of here!” Michael commanded. “It’s cool, dude, we’re leaving,” one of them said, as the two of them picked up their dazed comrade with a bloody and probably broken nose, and left the area with him stumbling between them...
I went over to Michael and very conspicuously put my arm around his waist. I then pulled him in for a long and intense kiss, as if our future together depended on it. After a few minutes, we finally came up for air, and my face felt flush with impatient passion.
“Let’s go back,” I said.
I've been blogging for just over a year, and I must say, I have never read a book quite like this one before.
This is one of most well researched, well vetted and beautifully written works of literary art I have read.
I pride myself on being a self proclaimed newshound, but this book told me things that I never saw in our media.
story begins in Syria. Anissa and her family live a very comfortable
life as Christians in a mainly Muslim world. With rumblings of civil
war, her father makes arrangement for her to come to America, where she
can live free, without persecution. Suddenly the plans are escalated and
Anissa witnesses the horrors that Syrian Christians have been subjected
to first hand. If you weren't aware of the atrocities that are going
on, after this book, you will. It feels like you are there. The news
reports cannot do it justice and only provide a snippet of what these
people are going through.
we follow Anissa on her journey of starting over, there were times that
I forgot she was just a young girl of 17. Her main focus in life are
her studies, and the MCA, a group on her college campus that raises
awareness to the Syrian Christian's plight. She is smart, quick witted
and while mature beyond her years, naive when it comes to matters of the
heart. I adore her. She is courageous and strong. She will capture your heart.
Michael and Julien. Michael appears perfect for her. Leader of the MCA,
he is passionate about the cause and everything it stands for. The
only thing standing in Anissa's way is his ex girlfriend. Anissa gets
her first taste of jealousy and I must say, I thi
k she handled herself very well. I have mixed feelings about Michael myself. You may think otherwise, but I'm not completely sold on the guy. There were times he almost appeared conniving, although it could have been just his passion for the cause.
Julien is a mess. By outward appearances he has it all. A billion dollar hedge fund, an esteemed teaching career at an Ivy league school, women when he wants, but he suffers in silence. We get a glimpse of the monsters he is dealing with and from what we do see, it isn't pretty. I see Julien as more of an antihero. Flawed beyond almost all redemption, he isn't the guy to sweep a girl off her feet. He makes no apologies for it either. He is a psychologist's perfect case study. Just ask his therapist, Lily. I would love to take a sneak peak at her notes. Michael calls him a selfish billionaire that thinks of nothing but himself. I see him differently. I see a troubled man that is very focused on every aspect of his career. Women are just an escape, a way to forget. And selfish? Well, I guess the case could be made for that argument but I think he's just like most Americans, not our fight, so why pay attention. The Syrian Christian's struggle is a page in the newspaper, a breaking news alert on your tv, not something that you follow closely like you would something that directly affects you.
Despite their age difference, Julien and Anissa have a lot in common. Both wear their masks very well to hide the pain they are feeling inside. I saw a better connection with them than I did with her and Michael. I think they could learn a lot from each other.
I must give this book only 5 stars because that's all I'm allowed to give. It is phenomenal and in my Top 5 of all time.
Zack Love graduated from Harvard College, where he studied mostly literature, psychology, philosophy, and film. After college, he moved to New York City and took a corporate consulting job that had absolutely nothing to do with his studies. The attacks of September 11, 2001 inspired him to write a novelette titled “The Doorman” and heightened his interest in the Middle East. A decade later, that interest extended to the Syrian Civil War, which provided the backdrop for his latest work. In late 2013, Zack began releasing his unpublished works of fiction and became a full-time author. He has published comedy, psychological and philosophical fiction, and romance. Zack enjoys confining himself to one genre about as much as he likes trying to sum up his existence in one paragraph.