One Paragraph Summary: Once idealistic and energetic, Sinan (formerly Dominic Johnson) returns home to Rivercity a tired and cynical man. What he had originally intended to be a two-month venture helping refugees abroad saw him instead being swept up in a foreign war, fighting for three years in a dictator’s militia. Under the tutelage of Antonino Mancuso, a fellow volunteer and Rivercity native, Sinan had finally found his place in the world. He took on a new name, a new language, and fell in love with a local woman. His fate, however, seemed to change as frequently as the war itself. Haunted by war crimes and the loss of many of his comrades, Sinan’s supposed destiny was dealt a deathblow by the sudden demise of his lover. Within the same week, his mentor, Antonino, was surrounded and supposedly martyred by opposing forces. Blaming himself for many of these tragedies, Sinan took it upon himself to honor his wife by taking guardianship over Zaida, her younger sister and the only surviving member of their family. Pledging to provide her with a better life, he deserted the cause and smuggled the two of them into the United States. Now the traumatized warrior must struggle to reintegrate back into his former life, with a family that has long thought him dead, with a new name and a ward that doesn’t speak a word of English. Complicating this even further is the low-profile Sinan must keep after serving the interests of a hostile foreign government, thus barring him from any legitimate work. To redeem his past failures and give Zaida the life she deserves, Sinan must navigate the difficult web of suspicious family members, a former lover, the threat of arrest, the pull of organized crime, his own conflicting conscience and ideals, Zaida herself, and a familiar face he never expected to see again.
Plot: To provide for his ward, Sinan smuggles himself and Zaida into Rivercity, in hopes of reconnecting with past loved ones and finding work to provide for her.
Story: Sinan, changed by his experiences abroad, struggles with guilt, trauma, paranoia, and anxiety as he struggles to put on a strong face for Zaida, when he himself feels lost and broken.
Combined: Desperate for redemption and seeking a new purpose, Sinan takes charge of Zaida, his lover’s younger sister. Seeking to provide her with a safe and better life, he uses some of his war time connections to smuggle the two of them into Rivercity, the city of his birth. This decision is shadowed with paranoia and uncertainty, as returning home is accompanied by the risk of identification and capture. Additionally, his struggle to reintegrate into a society at peace is plagued with trauma, guilt, and conflicting notions about returning to a home he never wanted to see again. His inner battle is further exasperated by the lack of legitimate work available to him, forcing Sinan to consider alternative means of income, those which may increase the risk of arrest and feed the violent past he hopes to leave behind. If Sinan is to honor the memory of his wife and give Zaida the life she deserves, then he must either overcome these physical and mental barriers or learn to accept and suppress them for Zaida’s sake.