"An expansive and beautiful new storyteller, Chehade tightly binds personal experience with the universal desire to belong, effortlessly weaving a dense tapestry of loneliness and regret."—Publisher's Weekly (starred review)
"A thoughtful family portrait that deals subtly with the variegated experiences of being outsiders in a strange land and the pulls of loss, memory, and desire."—The Arts Fuse
"Chehade’s first novel is characterized by refined, attentive prose—gorgeous but unpretentious, and skillfully adapted to whoever has the floor."—Foreword Reviews
As a blizzard blankets the northeast United States, burying residents and shutting down airports, the Zaydan family eagerly awaits the arrival of Eva, a cousin visiting from Lebanon after a long separation from the family. Over the course of one day, while Eva is stranded in New York City, Chehade’s nuanced story unfolds in the reminiscences and anxieties of each family member.
Emilie, the matriarch of this Lebanese American family, lives in a world of voluntary silence. Barely able to read and write in English and refusing to speak for the last several years, she immerses herself in her garden and leaves elaborately cooked meals anonymously for her solitary neighbor. Emilie’s oldest daughter Josephine, middle aged and still living with her mother and married brother, struggles to gain her independence and prepare for the arrival of her cousin, whose impending visit has reawakened conflicting emotions. Young Marie, Emilie’s granddaughter, is stifled by her conservative family and determined to study at Berkeley and to leave behind her immigrant identity. All three are drawn to their mysterious neighbor, nicknamed Loom, whose loneliness and isolation mirror their own and kindle within each woman a desire to make a connection. When Emilie takes off during the blizzard in the direction of Loom’s house and the rest of the family follows her, their act is both an escape and a reaching out. Beautifully written and alive with vivid portraits, Chehade’s novel is both heartfelt and wise.
Thérèse Soukar Chehade teaches English as a Second Language to elementary school students in Amherst, Massachusetts. This is her first novel.
Series: Arab American Writing
6 x 9, 182 pages