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Friday, July 31, 2009

The Years of Silence by Marwa Ayad

The Years of Silence by Marwa Ayad
Publisher: Malamih Publishing House
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full
Heat: Sweet
Rating: 5 Books
Reviewed by Ivy

After a tragic incident, divorced and heartbroken, Egyptian 27-year-old Maya Seif is determined to move on, and find a new career in publishing. When she realizes she can't get Yusuf, her first love, out of her mind, she decides to email him.

Yusuf Omar, an ambitious American-born, Egyptian-raised man is a thousand miles away from Egypt, and going through difficult times himself. The last thing he expects is an email, after all these years of silence, from the young woman he was in love with seven years ago.

Between Egypt and New York, little do they know how their lives are about to change forever, but not until they overcome the most difficult challenge.

THE YEARS OF SILENCE captivates you from the start with its tragic loss and history of violence. Abuse and betrayal is an all too common plaque on our societies and this novel opens with a promise that enduring these bitter fates can lead us to happiness.

Maya is a woman freshly divorced and dealing with the shame it has brought on her family. She is surprised to receive an email from her best friend’s brother who she hasn’t seen in years. They had been in love once but he had left their native Egypt for America, and abandoned her with questions.

I grew with hope and admiration as Maya and her childhood sweetheart, Yusuf, began a letter writing campaign that revealed their pasts, explained their present, and dreamed of their hopes of the future. Maya’s faith and forgiveness for those around her, and her courage to keep believing in herself and eventual happiness, struck a chord at the core of my spirit. The challenge Maya and Yusuf faced to come together in reality, and the unexpected crisis that followed had me unable to set the novel down.

Author Marwa Ayad’s writing is beautiful. I loved the settings, from Maya’s family home in Egypt to her trip to America. First person may not be a challenge for most readers but it certainly can be for a writer. Ms. Ayad’s voice is so stunningly real I was certain I was reading the excerpts of a painfully recorded diary. The frequent email exchanges between Maya and Yusuf are intimate and heart wrenching. It reminds one how easy it can be to open up in a letter, and how much work it takes to bring resolution to our conflicts in the flesh.

THE YEARS OF SILENCE is a private story made public only for readers who open the first page. It is quiet, yet passionate. Simple, but powerfully poignant. Maya and Yusuf become our friends. Those who are not familiar with Middle Eastern women or society will be both fascinated and enlightened. Barriers are lowered as gestures of sharing and empathy are made with sincerity.

I expect Marwa Ayad will be heartily welcomed into the open arms of Sweet Romance readers. She is a promising new author that writes with humility and honor. One can almost feel her taking her first steps out into the world with her arms wrapped gingerly around her “voice”-- a voice I have fallen for. I highly recommend this novel to readers of all genres, and for any ages.