This debut novel by Emily Robbins describes the story of love. Bea is an America student who has travelled to Syria to study the language and to read “the astonishing text”, an ancient manuscript that is said to cause tears in the eyes of its reader. However, a real-life love story takes place right before her eyes: Nisrine, the maid in the house where Bea is living, falls in love with the policeman guarding the building next door, the very same man that Bea has had her eye on. The novel has myriad themes besides love; it also contains issues such as oppression of women, war, revolution, but also kindness and the importance of family and culture. The lyrical prose is a pleasure to read, and it gives important insights into a different culture.