Suleima and Nassim meet in the reception of their therapist's practice in Damascus. Some months into their relationship, before fleeing Syria for Germany and leaving her behind, he gives her a manuscript whose protagonist's life bears discomforting similarities to her own. Whose story is it? And how much of her own history can she believe?
Written in a powerfully intimate voice, and narrated in alternating chapters by Suleima and by the mysterious woman in Nassim's novel, THE FRIGHTENED ONES explores living under oppression and what that does to one's sense of identity. As Suleima reads, her whole past comes bubbling violently up- her strained relationship with her mother, her attachment to her father and inability to accept his death, and her brother's abrupt disappearance during the revolution.
And so she sets out on a journey with her lover's book, to try to make sense not only of what has happened to her country, but also of who she is and what she has become.