| 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.
The 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.
As 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.
Enter 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.