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The Refugee Ocean    by Pauls Toutonghi Amazon.com order for
Refugee Ocean
by Pauls Toutonghi
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2023 (2023)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

Hauntingly written, this story explores the inner minds of two very different people who live completely different lives. One, a young boy, starts out in Syria and ends in the United States. Another, a young woman, starts out in Lebanon and ends in Cuba. They are connected by their deep love of music, their experience of extreme violence, and an American who is on a visit to Cuba.

Nam, a young son in a loving family, somehow understands way beyond his years what suffering and loss can do to others. He has to be helped to move ever so slowly and painfully beyond the loss he has suffered.

Marguerite, a promising pianist and composer, chafes against the future her father has destined for her. She bravely flees her home and country to find her love, but also the beginning of a revolt. Her music lives on to help Nam find his way.

We know few hard external facts in this story but many wonderfully evanescing thoughts and feelings. This makes us very aware of Nam and Margaret as they struggle for acceptance in their new surroundings, but provides a puzzle as to how their stories will come together. And when they do come together, it seems a bit rushed and not as carefully laid out as the rest of the story.

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