Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Length: 304 pages
First Published: 2022
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I received a complimentary copy of this book from Atria Books through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Hadi and Sama, a young Syrian couple living in Boston, are thrilled that their child will be born in America. When Sama is five months pregnant, Hadi’s father unexpectedly passes away in Jordan. After attending the funeral, Hadi is detained upon his return to Boston, caught up in a nightmarish limbo caused by the newly issued travel ban.
I loved Zgheib’s tale of anorexia, The Girls at 17 Swann Street, so I really wanted to enjoy her newest book. Despite the importance of the topic, No Land to Light On was a struggle for me to read, mostly because of the lyrical writing style. The composition jumps from past to present with endless descriptions in flowing language. The story stayed ethereal when I wanted this tragedy to be brought down to earth.
Hadi and Sama are a young Syrian couple flying high on a whirlwind love, dreaming up a life in the country that brought them together. She had come to Boston years before chasing dreams of a bigger life; he’d landed there as a sponsored refugee from a bloody civil war. Now, they are giddily awaiting the birth of their son, a boy whose native language would be freedom and belonging.
When Sama is five months pregnant, Hadi’s father dies suddenly in Jordan, the night before his visa appointment at the embassy. Hadi flies back for the funeral, promising his wife that he’ll only be gone for a few days. On the day his flight is due to arrive in Boston, Sama is waiting for him at the airport, eager to bring him back home. But as the minutes and then hours pass, she continues to wait, unaware that Hadi has been stopped at the border and detained for questioning, trapped in a timeless, nightmarish limbo.
Worlds apart, suspended between hope and disillusion as hours become days become weeks, Sama and Hadi yearn for a way back to each other, and to the life they’d dreamed up together. But does that life exist anymore, or was it only an illusion?
Achingly intimate yet poignantly universal, No Land to Light On is the story of a family caught up in forces beyond their control, fighting for the freedom and home they found in one another.
About Yara Zgheib
Yara Zgheib is a Fulbright scholar with a Masters degree in Security Studies and a PhD in International Affairs in Diplomacy. She is a writer for several US and European magazines, and the author of The Girls at 17 Swann Street and No Land to Light On.