Stick from Every Valley
by Adel Hariz
Litfire Publishing, LLC

"In conclusion, that are three things in life that will endure: faith, hope and the greatest of the three, love."

Hariz offers a deeply personal, pragmatic, and often poetic view into his life as a patriotic Lebanese man who chose to flee his home country at the beginning of Lebanon’s civil war, which lasted from 1975 to 1990. Surrounded by Syria and Israel, except for a western coastline that meets the Mediterranean Sea, Lebanon has long been rattled by religious and political differences both within its borders and outside. Hariz was one of almost a million Lebanese who left during the country’s civil war to pursue a better future. His exodus created strong conflicting emotions, which energize his story. Contrasting perspectives show joy for escaping a war-torn county, then shame for abandoning it; love for those who stayed to rebuild, but hate for those who tolerated despots; courage for overcoming many hardships, but despair that romantic love eludes him.

These beautiful, poem-like chapters beg for an introduction or preface to frame the context and the man. Are the pages diary entries or emails never sent to family, friends, and lovers? What prompted Hariz’s emigration, shaped his character, and fueled his endeavors in America? Did this Romeo ever win his Juliet? Perhaps, in the end, these questions must remain unanswered for now, because as the title—a common Lebanese saying—indicates, this collection is only “a bit of a mix and match.”

Hariz portrays his inner feelings and philosophy so well that it’s easy to overlook the mistakes in translation that mar the flow of prose but still do not interfere with an easy comprehension of it. Poetic and uplifting, lyrical with longing and heartbreak, and peppered with numbered lists that offer useful guidelines for living, Hariz offers hope for the land of the ancient Phoenicians and insights into war, suffering, and the necessary exodus from these twin realities.

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