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Updated on June 10, 2012


By Salma Abdelnour´╗┐

Freelance writer, Salma Abdelnour's family left Beirut back in the 80's because of all the problems in Lebanon. When Salma became an adult she moved from Texas to New York City where she made a life for herself as a freelance writer. She got to know the city and made a lot of friends including her Jewish boyfriend, Richard.

But Salma, although very happy in New York, felt a need to go back to Beirut and live there. She had been back for short visits to see old friends and family but now she wants to go back for a longer stay and get to know Beirut as an adult.

She packs her bags, kisses Richard good-bye, hops a plane, and finds herself back in Beirut, living in the apartment her parents keep there even though their home is in Texas. Salma looks around the apartment thinking of the country's rolling blackouts, the heat, not knowing what to do in the city, very homesick, and missing Richard but she's determined to make a life for herself.

JASMINE AND FIRE: A BITTERSWEET YEAR IN BEIRUT is not a fictional story, it's a memoir written by Salma Abdelnour about her experiences when she moved back Beirut for a year.

This memoir is beautiful. Salma takes her readers on a wonderful tour of Beirut visiting all the wonderful sites that are in this war-torn city. But the parts of the memoir that everyone can relate to are all the questions running around in Salma's mind: can she make new friends here, will her family accept her, can Beirut become her home, will she want to live there for the rest of her life, and what about Richard, her boyfriend? He's Jewish, how would her friends and family feel about that? Would he consider moving from New York City and live with her in this country? Salma doesn't know the answers to these questions and worries about the future.

But she shakes off her homesickness and forces herself to leave the apartment to walk all over Beirut, meet people, and to reestablish herself with her family.

Abdelnour introduces her readers to Beirut and especially her love of the foods there but she's very honest too. The author never let's the readers forget that it's dangerous living in Beirut. She talks about the protests that seem to go on daily and how the author herself is so frightened at times that she calls her relatives asking if she should worry about the instability and how it's affecting the country.

This memoir is one of the best. It's beautifully written, filled with the real questions and emotions of the writer that any one can understand and it shows the real Beirut, a place where most American's wouldn't consider a beautiful city.

JASMINE AND FIRE: A BITTERSWEET YEAR IN BEIRUT might be considered a travel guide by some people but it isn't. It reads like a story because it's a story that Salma Abdelnour lived through. It's an excellent memoir that will hold your interest and make you think about the world around you.


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