“Above all, a love story . . . a page-turner that keeps you up nights.”
In 2004, twenty-seven-year old Stephanie Saldaña arrives in Damascus with a broken heart and a haunted family history that she has crossed the world to escape. She has come on a fellowship to study the role of Jesus in Islam, but speaks very little Arabic, has no friends in the city, and has no place to live. Nor is it an ideal time to be in the region—the United States has recently invaded neighboring Iraq, and refugees are flooding into the streets of Damascus. Still, Stephanie does the only thing she can think of: she begins knocking on doors in the Christian Quarter, asking strangers if they have a room to rent. So begins "The Bread of Angels," the unforgettable memoir of one woman’s search for faith, love, and the meaning of her life in the place she least expects to find it.
Before long, Stephanie is offered an airy room in a glorious, dilapidated house. She begins to stumble through Arabic and to make the Old City her home. But after a series of disheartening developments, she leaves to spend a month in an ancient Christian monastery carved into the Syrian desert cliffs. There in the austere, beautiful landscape she finally begins to face the past she has been running from and to confront her wavering faith.
She is joined in her search for God and self-knowledge by a series of improbable teachers: the Sheikha, a female Muslim scholar who guides her through the Quran; Hassan, an Iraqi refugee who shows her the poetry that exists in war; the Baron, an Armenian neighbor who fusses over her like an eccentric relative; and finally Frédéric, a young French novice monk who becomes her best friend. Soon it is clear that she is falling in love again—with God, with her own life, and, unexpectedly, with Frédéric. But will Frédéric, on the cusp of taking his final vows, choose God or Stephanie?
The Bread of Angels" is the story of the unlikely year that changed Stephanie Saldaña’s life. Wise, funny, and heartbreaking by turns, it celebrates the beauty of faith, the necessity of self-discovery, and the possibility of true love.