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The Bread of Angels: A Journey to Love and Faith Hardcover – February 9, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. With a family history of untimely death and madness, Saldana easily took to a career of danger journalism, reporting from risky locales. In a deliberate attempt to stop courting danger, Saldana attempted a normal life at Harvard Divinity School. When the love affair that had provided her a sense of normalcy ended, she opted to take the Fulbright scholarship she had won to study the Muslim Jesus in Damascus, arriving in Syria in 2004 amid the post-9/11 war in Iraq. The tension of American foreign policy and Saldana's own vivid memories of death and destruction witnessed during her reporting life earlier in the Middle East haunted her, particularly when she embarked upon the Catholic rite of spiritual exercises at the Syrian desert monastery of Mar Musa. In lovely prose and with elements of foreshadowing, Saldana shares her struggles to become religious again and overcome feelings that God has abandoned her. Touches of melodrama weigh down an otherwise gorgeous and enlightening read, as Saldana's scholarly knowledge of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism subtly infuse her story. An Eat, Pray, Love for the intellectual set, Saldana's beautiful memoir should not be missed. (Feb.)
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In 2004 Saldaña went to Damascus to study Islam on a Fulbright fellowship. Knowing no one there and lacking living quarters, she went door-to-door, asking for help. Finally, she knocked on a door incongruously labeled “10 Downing Street.” In this as in many other incidents, her writing is most evocative as she carefully describes, for instance, the “perfumed” streets of Damascus’ Old City, “prayer beads dangling from store windows and glimmering in the sun.” She freely admits going to Syria to escape her travails and relieve a broken heart. She discusses being an American in Syria during the Iraq war (“unsettling”), clumsily learning Arabic, her fickle faith, her tendency to leave things unfinished, her habitual falling in and out of love, and her relationship with a young French novice monk. This lovely work is magical and poetic about a part of the world and a time—the Middle East in the post-9/11 era—in which many have become keenly interested. --June Sawyers
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Top Customer Reviews
Through her eyes emerges a picture of a land that most of us have little first hand information about and a lot of preconceived ideas, but her protrait is intensely human and astonishingly touching.
She sees the details of life and this slows the narative and while I generally dislike this trait in a book, I found, under her skilled pen, this to be very endearing trait as the reader moves page by page though the story actually tasting the food and feeling the heat and sand; and yes, sharing her heart breaks. Make no mistake, this is a deeply intorspective and troubled young woman with remarkable talents and the ability to show others in her words, what she has seen and experienced.
She is a seeker and becomes and modern mystic - a person searching for God. We share her spiritual struggles and failures and end the end...well I will not spoil it for you, but you will like this woman, want to spend time with her, and enjoy every moments in Bread of Angels.
I actually texted my fellow book club members and apologized for making this my monthly pick! There are some interesting observations included in the book and it is interesting in it's study of that particular place and time, it's too bad the Ms. Saldana did not write the book she apparently originally intended to.
Saldana, in telling her own story, perfectly captures the particular struggle of young, independent women to understand our place in the world. The complications of love, heartbreak, faith, and the desire to make the world better in the face of so many overwhelming problems make Saldana's unique story relevant to a variety of audiences, particularly to the generation of post-college 20-somethings undergoing our quarter-life crises. (I'm not saying you have to be in a state of early adult confusion to enjoy this book, just that any one who has experienced that will certainly be able to relate, and any one currently experiencing that will find hope in the author's journey.)
I bought it in hardcover for my sisters, my mother and each of my best friends. Every one I've suggested it to has shared my enthusiasm for it. It really is a gorgeously written tale, the kind of story that stays with you long after the last page. I can't wait to see what she writes next!
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