My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Tackling sensitive, timely issues is daunting for any author. There is a certain kind of finesse required to openly discuss hot button topics that rarely transcends into the fictional narrative. However, it is not only imperative to the people that writers push the boundaries of the social and political climate, it is also necessary to do so in order to improve upon the human condition. This is the goal for any writer, but not all have such strength of technical skill and forethought to bring such a project to fruition.
Zack Love accomplishes this daunting task with his novel, “The Syrian Virgin.” By focusing on the treacherous path of his young protagonist, readers get to follow in the footsteps of a fascinating character that is not oft touched upon and experienced by western audiences. Bridging American culture with those abroad is imperative to the overall construct of “The Syrian Virgin.”
The protagonist, Anissa, and her family are caught in the midst of tragedy and war in the Middle East. She resides within the Christian minority of the region and is thrust into an emotional and physical journey to New York where she meets two sharply different men with assorted backstories of their own. The characters and setting are depicted realistically and readers get to see this growth from the first chapter, resulting in a quick-paced, engaged writing style.
Love’s novel does a superb job of rounding out a cast of believable villains and heroes by bait and switching readers between a deep sense of likability and outright persecution. I use “villains” and “heroes” loosely, because most of the characters reside in the gray, like all individuals do. It is not juxtaposed or contrarian in the slightest, because it hits on what it means to be human. We are all flawed creatures and it is expressed through desire, love, and hate. Zack paints a picture that other similarly calibered writer’s would find difficult finishing.
From a technical aspect, “A Syrian’s Virgin” is solidly constructed. Transitions and character growth are natural, while some of the contextual information is a bit hasty. Love’s strong suit is definitely in his character building. The cast is diverse, personality-wise, which keeps readers guessing and alters the dynamic of the tale on the fly with minimum jarring to the reader.
“The Syrian Virgin” is more than a worthwhile read— It is enlightening and sheds light on sensitive topics that others might not feel comfortable writing or reading about. As previously iterated, we need more novels of this stature. The concept of other cultures, a better future, sexual awakening, and personal discovery need to be written about. The world would be a better place for it.
I highly recommend picking up Zack Love’s “The Syrian Virgin,” because you won’t be disappointed by the words nestled betwixt its covers.
For more news and information concerning Zack Love’s work, his website can be viewed and perused by clicking here.