by Therese Soukar Chehade

Syracuse University Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-815-60982-7.
Reviewed by Susan M. Andrus
Posted on 01/14/2011

Fiction: Multi-Cultural; Fiction: Historical; Fiction: Romance

Lebanese immigrants to the US settle near Boston, leaving memories and cousins behind in Lebanon. This is the story of family members (grandmother Emilie, her son, George, his wife, Salma, their daughter Marie, and George's sister Josephine) who keep their ties to Lebanon. The novel chronicles the characters' thoughts and actions as they wait at home during a snowstorm for their cousin, Eve, to arrive from Lebanon after fifteen years of separation. Added to the mix are the connections they make with their eccentric neighbor whom they have named "Loom," whose own family ties propel him along inexplicable paths.

Chehade's literary style in this, her first book effort, starts off shakily as she fails to identify characters or repeats herself unnecessarily, but about a third of the way through, her voice emerges as strong and as resilient as her characters. As Chehade chronicles the effects of the unbalanced feeling of being of one culture and trying to assimilate into another, her prose makes each character stand out as an individual, while all the characters attempt to negotiate the dynamics of their unbalanced relationships with each other and with their neighbor, Loom. Chehade weaves a sense of place, memories of the past, emotional connections to both the old and the new, and characterization to make us understand the difficulties of emigrating to a new world, itself in the midst of rebirth after the events of September 11, 2001.

Therese Soukar Chehade was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon. She teaches English language education at a school in Amherst, Massachusetts.

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