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.
LIFE shattered her. LOVE empowered her.
***I received a copy as a gift from N.M. Silber in exchange for an honest review***
Intense, insightful, heartbreaking, hopeful, sweet, eye opening and I could go on and on and on about this book and that says a lot since had it not been for spotting a post about an opportunity to review it, I never would have looked twice at it, as it doesn’t fall within the genres I typically read, but I’m happy I did. Hell, I unplugged so that I could give the book my entire attention and had to fight with myself, in my head of course, over wanting to finish it while not really wanting it to end.
Told through diary entries, we meet Anissa as a freshman in college in the US who is writing about her last memories of being in Syria with her family two years prior and the violence that led to her fleeing her home to the present day as a form of therapy, but also for herself. These entries are done in chronological order and you feel her anxiety over the escalating violence towards Christians, such as herself, and the gut wrenching and heartbreaking horror of the event that drives her away from her homeland and into a new life in New York. While Anissa is, as the title states, a ‘virgin’ she isn’t a naive one. As she states, she may be young in age she was fifteen when she had to flee, but she is no longer a child and I couldn’t help but admire how she strives to live her life and not wallow in despair over what she has lost and what she could still possibly lose. I do find some of her choices suspect, but the fact that she doesn’t allow her pain to drag her down nor does she go wild and crazy in her new world, makes it easier to accept.
While we meet people who matter the most to Anissa through her entries, her family, Maya, her best friend, and Michael, a man she has an interest in, we also meet Julian, one of her professors, not only through her diary entries, but through his own. It was a little weird for me when his first one comes into play but as the book progressed I came to find myself looking forward to his POV of things. In many ways Julian and Anissa are opposites, not only in their upbringing but their view of the world, but at the same time have a connection of sorts and as it plays out you do have to wonder how it will play out.
My only issue is that we are left with a cliffhanger ending. It’s a great place to end things, I had a total WTF?!? outburst, but as you can imagine frustrating as all get out. So now, I must wait patiently for the next book in the series...
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