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Posted March 23, 2012
Beirut in the 1980's was a time of total transformation. The phrase Dana Mills uses in this novel is one a dear friend said to me in exactly the same words, "The 'Middle-East Paradise' is gone!" Yet in this novel we have such a fine balance between the way things were before the War with Israel, a war actually fostered by the Palestinians also fighting with the Israeli, a war that became a bloodbath of senseless murder, and one that destroyed the architecture of the country. It's also a war that put the Lebanese people into two camps, those who fled the country in fear but who never lost the Lebanese soul and those who stayed hoping and praying for survival!
This is the world in which Rasha, a 25 year-old Lebanese woman, lives or perhaps it would be better to say barely copes with, constantly blocking out memories of death and the sounds of warfare and taking barbiturates to help with the thoughts and fears she can't escape. A teacher of English language in the local university, Rasha can't accept her father's domination over her life. He forces her to work to support the family and denies her the chance to pursue a higher degree. More, he monitors her every move, believing this is an acceptable life for a good Arab daughter. All that is about to change!
Traveling to Paris, France for a 10 day visit with her aunt, Rasha meets Luke Elliott, an English photojournalist. They immediately fall in love, but it's a world in which Rasha's family will never accept Luke because he quite simply is neither Muslim or Arab. Love cannot be defied, even by the terrible event that is about to happen in their world, a challenge that has the reader flipping the pages as fast as the eyes can course through the lines. It also forces Rasha and the reader to experience more than one point of war about this historic, tragic war!
Dana Kamal Mills has written a heartrending but inspiring work of historical and political fiction that portrays every facet of a war-torn land and its peoples, with just about every emotion one could possibly imagine. One can tell by reading how real this has been to the author, a necessary and vital work of fiction that more should read. A lament about war and a celebration of life and love is what you will find in these clear, powerful novel! A must read!