by Zack Love
Every now and then a book comes along that really moves and entrances you. For me, “The Syrian Virgin” by Zack Love is one of those books.
The story, centred around a young girl escaping the civil war in Syria, has everything you could ask of a good book. It has pace and emotion, a good plot, is well written, and leaves you wanting to know more.
The central character is the teenager Anissa, who tells her story in a series of letters, from the atrocities she faces in her home town of Homs, to the new life she is building for herself in New York. Alongside Anissa’s letters, there are also extracts from the journal of her college professor, Julien, who is drawn to this mysterious young woman in a way that frightens and excites him.
Both characters are haunted by the events of their pasts, but each faces them in different ways. Anissa draws strength from the tragic events that unfolded in January 2012, using them to give some meaning and direction to her life. For Julien, his past is something he is constantly running away from, but continues to catch up with him, no matter how rich or successful he gets.
The two parallel stories give the reader two very different perspectives on the events that shape Anissa’s new life.
The book was a recommendation, and I am so glad I took it up. It is a very moving story, written with passion and conviction. I was hooked from the first page. There is no waffle, no padding of the story and no distractions from the story itself. The pace and style are just right. An excellent book that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys tales of human resilience and compassion.