“I feel possessed by something, the immenseness of possibilities, a pure rush of optimism that nothing can shake.”
There’s a lot to love about this book, from the characters to the descriptions of amazing sounding Armenian cuisine, to the lovely bonds that the main character forms with so many people. Nareh is a great reporter who’s stuck doing fluff pieces, and even if you’ve never worked in journalism, if you’re a woman you’ve likely experienced some form of this kind of treatment at least once in your life. It’s really disheartening to read her interactions with her jerky boss and coworker Mark and know that she can’t really do anything about it. She basically takes what she can get at work and keeps pitching pieces that would mean more to her to report on but she can’t catch a break.
What makes all this worse is her boyfriend of five years, Trevor, proposing in the last place and the last way she’d ever want, including inviting Mark to film it. Trevor seems basically good, but utterly clueless and he’s just not right for Nareh. When he goes off on a month-long business trip to Germany the day after the failed proposal, it’s pretty much good riddance. Nareh decides to make her mother happy by attending Explore Armenia events for a month and find an Armenian man to be with. Of course this backfires, when she falls for an Armenian Wiccan, Erebuni, instead.
Nareh may be 27 but honestly a lot of her struggles are relatable to various ages. Teenagers would probably appreciate her perspective, but even as an adult I found myself empathizing with her choices and trying to change her life for the better. That said, I couldn’t give it a perfect score because at some point it felt like it started to drag a bit. Things were going well, but it needs conflict at some point and the conflict that arose was just so disappointing. Not because it was unrealistic – far from it, actually – but because it was something that could’ve been avoided with one easy conversation early on between Nareh and Erebuni. I get why she didn’t have that conversation, but I knew there would be conflict coming and it kept me a bit on edge while reading. It’s not a dealbreaker for sure – the book is fantastic – I just wish that the issue had been better handled since they are adult women. Again, I can understand why – and I know it’s a lot easier said than done to handle things in a responsible and upfront manner, especially in hindsight – but it just bothered me because you could see her moving towards this conflict and all you could do is watch her make her choices and want for the fallout. I think it bothered me more than it might bother others because she was so very relatable and I could see myself doing the same thing in some cases. I wanted to impart my own lessons learned and obviously I couldn’t do that, but I was also never annoyed with Nareh. I just wanted her to be happy and I really love her and Erebuni together. We see some really excellent character growth from Nareh too, and it’s bittersweet seeing her come into herself and be more comfortable in her own skin.
Overall, this was a really sweet book that highlighted interesting parts of Armenian culture as well as the parts that are often overlooked, including the genocide. It made me want to learn even more and also to try some of the amazing Armenian dishes and coffee Voskuni describes. This is an excellent love story and I would highly recommend it.
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