St. John's was a visceral shock to them. In a hansom cab, on their way to the Crosbie Hotel on Duckworth Street, they saw faceless people sealed inside heavy woolen jackets, with hoods pulled up to protect them from the furious April gale. Like lost souls, they trudged silently down snow-encrusted sidewalks, alongside two-story-high snowbanks and manure-covered roads. Colourless, onion-crate-like wooden dwellings lined the streets. Large burned-out gaps bore witness to buildings that existed no more. Raggedly-dressed children picked the pockets of derelict men, gut-splattered fishermen slashed the heads off dead-eyed fish, and sozzled sailors led desperate women down dark alleyways into loveless embraces.
Such was the city that greeted two immigrant families in the early 20th century Dominion of Newfoundland. Escaping to the New World where the promise of freedom was just too enticing to pass up, these families were world's apart in their beliefs and cultural identity. One family, the Rosenbergs; Jewish, fleeing Russian persecution and the other, the Abdullah's; Maronite Christian Lebanese escaping the Ottoman Empire and possessing a strong mistrust for all Jews. But, when you're nine years old and living so close to each other that you can see right into your neighbour's bedroom, this strange new land of weird customs, intelligible dialects, and bland foods becomes a child's playground. Captivated with each other from an early age, Ruth Rosenberg and Ali Abdullah's close childhood friendship evolves into a romantic relationship not readily accepted by Ali's traditionally minded mother. When Ali's mother arranges to have her son married without his consent to a young Lebanese girl from the mother country, Ali and Ruth's love for one another becomes threatened. In an effort to do the "right" thing, both retreat to new and confusing relationships with other people while still hoping that love will out.
David Michael's debut novel, Love Will Out, is an unforgettable true life account of two young people, forced to survive racism, violence, and bigamy while in pursuit of a love that is lasting and true. The simply written but captivating story details the interracial relationship of Michael's mother and father during the 1920's society of the country of Newfoundland. The characters are of course Michael's family and what characters they are! Ruth's passionate personality, tomboy exterior and willingness to stand up to anything and anybody is admirable and Ali's ingenuity, loyalty and quick wit proves to be what's needed to get the couple through the many obstacles that are thrown their way. Mother Abdullah is a force to be reckoned with while Father just wants to keep the peace. The story is well written and fast paced, reading like a juicy, five part soap opera with a plot that is almost unbelievable. This is a book I did not want to put down.
David Michael's fictionalized dramedy is also quite interesting from a historical perspective. Love Will Out shines light on the small groups of immigrants that came to our shores from areas outside the British Isles. Many of the Chinese, Lebanese, and Jewish immigrants that arrived during the late 1890's, settled in the St. John's area and operated businesses from the downtown with many of their ancestors still calling Newfoundland home today. I enjoyed how Michael was able to weave historical tidbits of info throughout this enchanting story reminding me of an overlooked era in Newfoundland history.
Love Will Out by David Michael is a page-turning coming of age love story full of twists and turns. I look forward to reading upcoming novels by this author. Love Will Out is an Ingelwood Press publication and is also available at Breakwater Books.