From the critically acclaimed and award-winning author, Azin Sametipour, comes Awakened by Love, a breath-taking story about forbidden love, heartbreak and identity.
Born in California into a Muslim family from Iran, Zoha Farzam thought she had her entire life planned. Graduating from UC Davis in just three years, and attending Stanford Medical School. Even removing her scarf without her parents knowing was a carefully planned rebellion, but she never in her wildest dreams planned Ethan. Ethan Renard was everything she was not, and when he made her question everything she believed in, Zoha found herself being torn between her happiness and her duty. Would she risk everything, her family, her faith, and even her reputation for him?A moving portrait about the challenges one faces from being in two cultures, or falling in love with someone who is, and the hard decisions one must make to be true to oneself.
Awakened by Love is astonishingly beautiful and frighteningly honest.Critics call it captivating, powerful and a novel for everyone.The first in a trilogy, Awakened by Truth comes next!
Excerpt from Chapter 19
“Your little sister is not wearing a scarf,” he said, and she felt as if he wanted to change the subject.
“Not yet. Maybe in a year, my parents will make her wear the scarf.”
“What if she says no?”
“She doesn’t have a choice,” Zoha said. “Like I didn’t.”
“What if she says no and you tell your parents that it was okay if she didn’t want to wear it?”
“I have no say in the matter. It’s my parents’ decision. They follow God’s words, not Afra’s or mine.”
“But it’s her life.”
“But my parents say that God gave her life.”
“And he wants her to be happy,” he said, looking up at the sky. The sun had found a gap between the tree branches and was now shining down on them. Those words hit her hard. She just stared at him, unable to get any words out.
“What? I’m serious,” he said, his platinum eyes on her now.
“I know,” she mumbled.
“I’m just saying that if you really want something, you have to fight for it.” He turned to the lake, leaving her disturbed. How did God want her to be happy? She had never given this any thought—never even considered it, to be perfectly honest. Still feeling hot, Zoha wondered—What if she removes her jacket right now? What if she lived her life the way she wanted, not they way she was forced to?
She had broken so many rules already. She figured, she was guaranteed to go to hell anyway, and one more sin to add to the pile wouldn’t make a huge difference. She slowly removed her jacket, now only wearing the sleeveless white blouse. The feeling of nakedness ran through her first, but as the spring breeze touched her bare arms, every worry seemed to slip away like a fog lifting from a sunlit mountain. Not only did she feel free, she also felt something else, something amazing. She felt God—the God who wanted her to be happy. It was the most amazing feeling. This was what an epiphany was. She was there. She was awake, and she was in love. The touch of the breeze on her bare skin made her take a deep breath. Her heart was open, her eyes were closed; she was sitting next to a man whom she had grown to love. This had to be God’s presence, telling her to be happy. She felt time stop and somewhere she heard her own voice, reading the very chapter in the Qur’an she was named after.
Va Zoha, Va laile…
By the daybreak when it brings morning light.
And by the night when it covers with darkness.
Your God did not abandon you, nor did He forget.
“You okay?” he asked.
She quickly opened her eyes, finding him looking at her, his eyes lit with concern.
“Yes. It’s hot.”
He sat up, wiped his hands against each other, and said, “Yeah, it’s hot. I should remove my shirt, too.” His hand went to the collar of his shirt.
“No,” she said. “Don’t.”
“Are you sure? You don’t want to see my six-pack?” He suppressed a laugh. “I was actually about to go skinny-dipping here at the lake.”
“Oh, God, please, no,” she pleaded. She was as uncomfortable as she had felt during her first sex ed class.
“I’m joking.” He let go of his shirt, reached for her hair, and took the end of her braid in his hand.
“Who did your hair?”
“I did,” she whispered.
“It’s beautiful,” he murmured. Then, as if he had just realized that he was touching her hair, he let go and got up.
“I almost forgot!” he exclaimed, going toward Syrah and Blake. From the pocket of Blake’s saddlebag, he retrieved two bottles.
“Apple juice for you. Beer for me,” he said.
She took the Mott’s bottle of apple juice, which was surprisingly cold. Then, she said, “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. I asked Javier to pack them for us.”
There he went again. For us. How beautiful those two words sounded when they came from his mouth! How wonderful it would be if they were an us.