Marta Haddad’s dream of coming HOME remained unfulfilled.
With only a bag full of courage, hope and love Marta Haddad boarded a boat in Beirut , making a long and perilous voyage to France and then onwards to her final destination, New York. The trip to America was a complicated aspiration for a young woman traveling alone. Marta was born and raised in a small village in Mount Lebanon called Btater. At the age of 18 she married her cousin Khalil Haddad. Khalil left Lebanon for America seeking work, and hoping for a better life. A year had passed without a word from Khalil, so she decided to follow him.
In America Rabih Jaber narrates with excruciating details all the obstacles Marta and all immigrants had to overcome to emigrate to America. Her story is compelling because it is not just the story of Marta but also the history of Lebanon and the Lebanese diaspora. As Marta succeeded in building a prosperous life in America, she realized her potential to be a great businesswomen. ‘America’ tells the story of a village girl who rebuilt her life in a new country with courage and determination. Jaber describes Marta as the powerful heroine, who overcame difficulties and ended up living successfully in Pasadena, California surrounded by her children and grandchildren. Although she left Lebanon at a young age, everything she had accomplished in America, reminded her of HOME. Marta dreamed of Lebanon. Marta’s feelings of homesickness and nostalgia are emotions that all Lebanese in the Diaspora can relate to. During the 60 years she spent in America, Marta had always wished she could go back to Lebanon at least once in her life. Despite all the aspirations that she had fulfilled she never realized her return HOME.
The American dream seems to be a common dream for all our children now. How many Marta Haddads will there be after a century? Is this story to be the unchanging fate of our Lebanese identity or will our history no longer repeat itself?