12th March 2020
It is the summer of 2006, and nineteen-year-old London music student, Layla, returns home for the holidays to a now peaceful Lebanon.
When she arrives, though, she finds that her troubled younger brother has gone missing. “Borrowing” her father’s car, she heads to Beirut to search for him, meeting a variety of people along the way.
But her quest is cut short when, without warning, Beirut comes under heavy artillery fire.
A new war has begun, and now she is trapped in the middle of it.
Published by Holland House Books on the 5th March 2020, 292 Pages
This is the story of Layla, who returns home from University in London to Beirut, Lebanon in the summer of 2006 just as the July war breaks out.
This is a fast paced read about a young woman who is determind to find her brother but ends up in desperately frightening conditions. She finds a dog and love along the way and begins to see her country in a different light (through the eyes of someone who has lived in the Western World).
What scared me most about this book is how recently this happened and in some parts of the world is still happening and how most of the Western Countries ignore it and leave innocent people to suffer the terrors of war.
To say I enjoyed the book seems wrong because of the subject matter but I did, the characters seemed very real and the dog and Laylas relationship with it touched me. It was very well written and you could feel the terror of the situation. It also showed a clear contrast to life in London and life in Beirut where tensions run high and war can break out at the drop of a hat.
I would like to see this book taught in schools so that young people could see the terrible consequences of modern warfare.
Thanks to Emma Welton @DampPebbles and @HhouseBooks for my copy in exchange for review.
Nathalie Abi-Ezzi was born in Beirut, and has lived in Lebanon, Austria and the UK.
It was while working on her Ph.D in English Literature at King’s College London that she realized that she wanted to write her own novels rather than just analyse other people’s. So, while working variously as an editor, teacher and tutor, she wrote and published several prize-winning short stories and her first novel, A Girl Made of Dust (4th Estate, 2008), which was short-listed for the Desmond Elliot Prize and the Author’s Club Best First Novel Award, and was the winner of the LiBeraturpreis in 2011.
She has, for better or worse, always been given to utterly pointless yet entirely joyful activities like playing music, drawing, painting, reading, and going on long walks. She has a particular interest in animal welfare, and has volunteered at shelters and rescue centres for many years. She always has a rescue dog by her side while writing, which is perhaps why animals invariably find their way into her work …