Rayna, a beautiful, smart, youngest daughter of a religious Jewish family in New York begs her parents to allow her to go away to college. She is rarely denied and has always been her father’s favorite. They finally permit her to study journalism at the University of Maryland as long as she continues to follow their strict religious codes of eating and socializing as they do in their small Syrian community in New York. When handsome Rami sits beside her in class she immediately feels her world turn upside down. He is instantly enamored with her as well. As the two young people get acquainted she learns that Rami is also Syrian. His family lives in a small village, they are Muslim and part of the Shi-ite minority. The more Rayna and Rami learn about each other’s customs and beliefs they are surprised by the similarities but well aware that neither of their families, nor the terrorist group sponsoring Rami’s scholarship would approve of their friendship and vehemently forbid a romance of any kind. But they are young, idealistic and in love. Rami and Rayna naively believe they can find a way to be together without anyone getting hurt. This novel is a unique story filled with passion and determination. It brings up a lot of difficult issues regarding family, religion, politics and deep rooted history. The writing is average (needed serious editing) but I must say it was an extremely interesting read and will be a heated discussion at book club this month.
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