Road to Damascus
by Elaine Rippey Imady
MSI Press

"In this city, there was a right way to do everything and a right phrase to say for every occasion, and you were judged by how well you conformed."

December 1955 is a pivotal year for Elaine Rippey. A student attending New York University, Elaine prepares for a scholarship opportunity when she encounters Mohammed Imady, a handsome Muslim student. It is love at first sight, and by August the lovebirds tie the knot. Suddenly placing schooling on a back burner and eventually moving to Syria, Elaine's rebel and independent persona plunges naively but daringly into the Arab world. What begins as culture shock turns into an unexpected love and deep respect for the people of a country that becomes her new home. Imady's memoir is an inimitable love story—one that goes far beyond the strength of her marriage.

Elaine Rippey Imady's story would not be possible without the encouragement of her family and her friend and internationally known author Mary S. Lovell. Five years in the making, Imady's time is well spent since her stories are pure gold nuggets amid a time period pitted with the complexities of global political and cultural movements. Imady candidly shares what it was like acclimating to "a drastically different culture" during the first thirteen years (1960 – 1973) of her life in Syria. While other American wives find ways to leave their Syrian husbands (and obviously some did), Imady overcomes homesickness and eventually lovingly embraces her new family and environs. Learning Arabic is key as this bridges the cultural gap. That said, Imady also includes a wealth of stories from her Arabic family. Amid her fascinating recollections, Imady spells out the political tenor under President Hafez al-Assad, as well as witnessing the terrifying bombing of Damascus during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Absolutely intriguing from chapter to chapter, Road to Damascus not only reaches out to a wide audience (from curious readers to historians), but is also a welcome addition to American-Syrian history.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

Return to USR Home