The Syrian Jewelry Box: A Daughter's Journey for Truth

The Syrian Jewelry Box: A Daughter's Journey for Truth

by Carina Sue Burns


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Carina Rourke is a young American growing up in blissful innocence in the Middle East until at age fifteen she is captivated by an obsessive desire to search inside ofher mother’s forbidden jewelry box. Carinadiscovers a shocking family secret. On the heels of her discovery, she and her family pursue her father’s dream; an exotic drive through the Middle East and Europe, which serves as a metaphoric journey for the woman Carina becomes—a silent nomad searching for identity. When they reach Paris, the city’s temptations engulf her. French pastries become a dangerous addiction and an accomplice in silence. And so does the love of a mysterious Tunisian. Many years later, as a married mother in Holland, Carina draws on her father’s wisdom to finally confront the family secret to heal herself and her family.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781630475826
Publisher: Morgan James Publishing
Publication date: 11/03/2015
Pages: 260
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

For over two decades, Carina Burns traveled the globe throughout Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, including Germany, France, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, and Saudi Arabia. She enjoys all aspects of foreign cultures, including exotic cuisines, cultural history, and language. She studied writing at DeAnza College and Stanford and is a member of the California Writers Club South Bay Branch. A speaker and blogger on adoption-related issues, Carina is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She is the author of "What Do You Mean I Was Adopted? 7 Steps to Acceptance, Gratitude & Peace". When not attending school, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading and nature hiking. She lives in Palo Alto, California. To learn more about Carina, visit her website at

Read an Excerpt

I glanced out the window to be sure no one appeared. I gulped down a glass of water in the kitchen. The dishes that Thabit cleaned this morning were stacked high in the dish rack. I knew that my job included putting them away by dinnertime, but right now the dishes didn’t matter. I paced up and down the living room, psyching myself up to go into my parents’ bedroom. My arms crossed over my chest and I felt my heart pound. I passed by my own room. A feeling of uneasiness overwhelmed me. Should I proceed to my room? Should I read a book or change course?

Thinking about the smart thing to do didn’t work. I scuffled my feet and intertwined my hands. I fidgeted with them and got cold feet. The cuckoo clock’s pendulum swung twice each second, reminding me that I could turn back, but I didn’t. Instead, I kept walking down the long narrow hallway toward my parents’ bedroom. I watched behind and in front of me. I passed Dennis’s room, kept surveillance corner to corner, acting as if I were waiting for something or someone.

When I got to the open bedroom door, my heart raced faster. The room felt forbidden to me. The cuckoo clock chimed on the hour, reminding me that it was only 4 p.m., lots of time before Dad returned from work and Dennis got back from Frank’s. My body felt like it had a mind of its own. I bit my nails even though I had previously stopped. I probably would never have another chance so perfectly designed as this one—I persisted, determined to satisfy my urges.

The tightly shut patio doors kept out the intense afternoon sun. I flipped on the light switch to their dusky bedroom. Laundry detergent permeated the air. Dad’s clothes, which Thabit had neatly folded, sat untouched near the edge of the bed. Mom and Dad’s sleek beige armoire sat at the opposite end.

I eyed the alluring Syrian jewelry box, which sat opposite the hand-carved mirror. The mere sight of it made me breathe faster. With trembling hands and the utmost care, I lifted the lid of the jewelry box. Before I touched anything, I scanned all the pieces to be sure I didn’t forget what went where. I noted four small plastic bags filled with diamond rings in each one. There were a lot of diamond rings here—I wondered if they were real or just costume jewelry. Why on earth would Mom own so many? I then recalled her telling me that she bought fake diamond rings.

I pored over the pieces. I recognized two shiny gold bracelets and concluded that she had bought them at the gold souq. I spotted an ornate silver necklace; it looked exactly like the Bedouin jewelry that Mom bought at the gold souq at the time I chose my snake ring. I pored over gold rings with rubies, emeralds, and semi-precious stones. There must have been a ring for each day of the week—these couldn’t all be real too. Dismissing them, I set my gaze on a filigree silver pin encased with diamonds and three black stones. It appeared antique. I guessed this one belonged to my German grandmother, whom I call Omi. Today I own this beautiful vintage gem. Every time I wear my lovely pin, I remember Omi and her exquisite taste for art nouveau.

I noticed Mom’s silver wedding band; the reflection of the silver caught my eye with its intriguing black etchings. I loved pretending to be married. I thought of my biology teacher and began to fantasize about someday being married to him. I slid the ring onto my ring finger—only halfway just in case it got stuck.

I frowned. Why wasn’t Mom wearing her wedding ring? I twisted it around on my finger and then removed it. I stared more closely at the black etchings and read the inscription on the inner band: “1962.” I held my breath. I focused on the date more closely.

“Nineteen sixty-two?” I whispered. But I was born in 1960!

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Preparing for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (1968)

Chapter 2. The Arrival, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (1968)

Chapter 3. The Souq, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (1968)

Chapter 4. Raytheon Compound, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (1968)

Chapter 5. The Hajj, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (February 1969)

Chapter 6. Mada’in Saleh, Saudi Arabia (1969)

Chapter 7. Petra, Jordan (1969)

Chapter 8. The Creek, Sharm Obhor, Saudi Arabia (1971)

Chapter 9. The Gold Souq & Seamstress, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (1971)

Chapter 10. The Embassy Boat, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (1972)

Chapter 11. The Parents’ Cooperative School (PCS), Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (1972)

Chapter 12. The Discovery, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (1975)

Chapter 13. The Secret Disclosed, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (1975)

Chapter 14. Driving from Jeddah to Paris (1975)—Middle East: Part 1

Chapter 15. Driving from Jeddah to Paris (1975)—Middle East: Part 2

Chapter 16. Driving from Jeddah to Paris (1975)—Europe: Part 1

Chapter 17. Driving from Jeddah to Paris (1975)—Europe: Part 2

Chapter 18. Driving from Jeddah to Paris (1975)—Europe: Part 3

Chapter 19. Paris (1975–1979)

Chapter 20. Standing Still, Ridgefield, Connecticut (2002)

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