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Nothing is Predictable, by Adalina Mae (Adalina Mae, Charleston, SC, 2017, 261 pages.)

Book Review by Dennis Moore

February 3, 2017 (San Diego) - Adalina Mae, born in Los Angeles and with roots in Lebanon, has written an intriguing and insightful book about a complex woman named Zara that seems to center around her troubled and now deceased father. She speaks lovingly of her father, but shares intimate details of her childhood and relationship with her father that seems to reflect her current life. She speaks of therapy sessions brought about by early childhood experiences, some of which were quite troubling.

The author writes that her life incidents have taught her that nothing is predictable and nothing can last forever. The heroine in this well written book is Zara, who can easily be identified as Adalina Mae in her childhood.

Although this novel is classified as FICTION/Roman a Clef, or based on some true events, the author has indicated to this writer that the most significant parts are real. It seems contradictory for the author to state in the front pages of the book; “The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.” My reading of this book would lead me to think and believe otherwise, and that credit should go to how adept the author weaves this fanciful story.

Perhaps nothing more poignant and actually sets the theme of this book by Mae, is a statement made early on by her; “They say your perception on life is developed between the ages of zero and seven. I often wonder about mine: waking up to guns being fired in the house, an abusive father who almost killed my mother numerous times in front of me, and being sexually molested twice under the age of eight. All my life, I have felt ripped off because I did not have a normal childhood. I get annoyed when I see kids being pampered and treated fragilely over minor incidents, when at the same age, I was battling to survive.” This actually sets the stage for what the author feels is important to tell in her book, although I feel is more profound.  

Zara is a vibrant, funny, resilient American-Lebanese woman struggling with a traumatic past. Her father, in a drunken rampage, accidentally shoots himself dead, leaving his ‘princess’ of eight years old to battle through her life carrying the responsibility of fatherly duties. At least, this is the initial presumption in this book.

She (Zara) is torn between the memory of his benevolence and the drunken, violent, incoherent alcoholic she views as a ‘monster’. With his death begins Zara’s long journey of haunted nightmares and struggles, along with exhausting relationships and self-discovery until one day, Zara discovers some disturbing news.

The author takes us on a journey through the States, Lebanon, and Europe, on hilarious escapades with various gorgeous men, interspersed with sad, heartbreaking moments: this is life and nothing is predictable. Zara ends her story with a mystery to solve: Why does she have recurrent nightmares of her last night with her father?

This book by Mae actually resonates with me for many and profound reasons, some of which are similar to my daughter Brandy at the same eight years old as Zara’s father left her, for her to battle through life carrying the responsibility of fatherly duties.

Particularly disturbing in this book is Zara being continually raped and molested at an early age, by an older man in the building that she lived in with her family, and later at the age of seven by some young boys while she was outside picking flowers. She rationalized and attempted to explain it this way: “Another molesting incident occurred to me at the age of seven. I remain perplexed to this very day about this incident. All my life, even with the help of therapy, I have struggled to remember what actually happened to me. My brain seems to have blocked out the event, leaving only flashing images. Deep down, I have always felt the worst must have happened.”

Not claiming to be a therapist myself, clearly by reading the author’s book, the central theme of her novel seems to be these early childhood experiences in her life. The author actually states and admits in her insightful book; “My childhood experiences had shaped me with a somewhat warped understanding of what passion and love were”, possibly alluding to Zara’s childhood rapes and sexual molestation. She made this statement in context with her first love, Jamal.

My having written earlier reviews of M.J. Payne’s The Remembered Self, Joyce Reed’s Hurt Used to Live Here, Cortina Jackson’s On Earth As It Is In Hell and Mary Elizabeth Bullock’s Judging Me, all of which involved these women being abused and sexually molested by men at an early age, Mae’s book resonates with me and should also with other readers of her book, for very profound reasons. In the aforementioned cases with Joyce Reed and Mary Elizabeth Bullock, their being sexually molested by their own fathers seems to still have a lasting impact on their lives, as indicated to me in my many interviews and communications with them during the course of my writing the reviews of their books. Who is to say what those early instances of sexual molestations written about in Mae’s book had on the life of Zara?

Although the author writes about the numerous fun filled adventures and escapades of Zara in this book with the likes of Jamal and Tariq, two Muslims, as well as many other men, there seems to be an underlying theme of unhappiness and emptiness in Zara’s life brought about by distrust. The significance of mentioning Jamal and Tariq as being Muslim, is the fact that Zara’s Christian family and upbringing would have been opposed to Zara’s involvement with a Muslim. As a matter of fact, after her family had warned Zara against getting involved with Tariq, she went ahead and married him, and the marriage would later end in divorce after Zara caught him in bed with another woman in their own home. This is just one of many instances in this book that Zara made the wrong choices in men.

Clearly, Zara likes men, as specifically stated in this book: “Slap a set of male biceps in my face and man, do my legs go week.” One such man that comes to mind is Livio, whom Zara refers to as a “Swiss God.” Her infatuation with Livio in this book was actually overboard!

We all have demons in our lives that we must face from time to time, just as Zara did throughout Nothing Is Predictable, and there is a particular passage in this book that resonated with me the most; “Yes, very angry, I hate him for what he did to Mum and all of us, he ruined our family. I’m very angry at him for leaving us and not being there for us. I needed my father growing up but he was so irresponsible not to do the right thing by his family so of course I’m angry with him.” I actually cried after the reading this, for it reminded me of something my now 23-year-old daughter Brandy said to me several years ago, but more specifically; “I was the reason that she had so many problems with guys.” It actually reads a lot like Zara’s failed relationships with guys in this book. Also, and just as Zara had these recurring nightmares about her father throughout this book, I actually had a nightmare just last night about my family, and my not being there for them as Brandy had wanted and expected.

Perhaps of all the men that Zara was involved with, and caused her the most pain and distrust of men, Leandro comes to mind. Zara was actually engaged to marry him, only to find out about a series of lies and deception, including the fathering of a 5-year old. This proved to be devastating to her psyche, especially in conjunction with the recurring nightmares surrounding the circumstances of her father’s death. Zara’s mother, who she affectionately referred to as “Mum”, and before she found out what a scoundrel Leandro was – stated to her daughter facetiously; “If you ever let this one go, I swear I will disown you!” Zara sought out Buddhism and a Gypsy after this debacle to help get answers. Zara specifically stated to the Buddhist disciple: “I wanted to discuss the nightmares of my father and the inability of dealing with my childhood molestation, so I could put it all behind me.”

Outside of the documented circumstances and failures that Zara had with men, and understandably so, she did lead a successful life as a businessperson, singer and dancer, as well as martial arts enthusiast. There is also a fun loving side to Zara demonstrated when she gets together with her girlfriends, sort of a Sex in the City scene, giving rise to thoughts of a movie or TV show for this book – with Zara starring in the role of Samantha.

Perhaps the most profound and insightful statement made by Zara in this book, occurred when she traveled thousands of miles to Lebanon where her father was buried, whom she had not seen in 28 years, and stated; “Maybe that was the reason I was attracting the wrong men in my life. I had anger and ‘Daddy’ issues to deal with. I was attracting everything that reminded me of Dad: trauma, drama, betrayal, and loss.” I could easily say this about my own daughter Brandy also. And speaking of daughters, this book reminds me so much of noted singer John Mayer's song "Daughters" which you can listen to here.

There is so much to this story written by the author that possibly requires the help of an analyst or therapist to help understand. Without giving too much of the story away, suffice it to say, this well written book will certainly keep your attention and is worthy of a movie, particularly with Zara ending the story with a mystery to solve. This is a book that I highly recommend.

Dennis Moore has been the Associate Editor of the East County Magazine in San Diego and the book review editor for SDWriteway, an online newsletter for writers in San Diego that has partnered with the East County Magazine, as well as a freelance contributor to EURweb based out of Los Angeles. He is also the author of a book about Chicago politics; The City That Works: Power, Politics and Corruption in Chicago. Mr. Moore can be contacted at or you can follow him on Twitter at: @Denni

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I had a connection with Zara because

She went through a similar life style that I led, my now ex husband is an alcoholic and although he wasn't into physical abuse he was very controlling and yes, at the time I suffered terrible mental abuse, because of his excess drinking we had no money, what money we had, was spent on his habit, he owned money everywhere, made us bankrupt, TWICE, and in 16 years of marriage we moved 10 times avoiding landlords that wanted their rent money... this is only the tip of the iceberg here... life got much worse... which I wont go in to here, but I can see how I connected with Zara from that moment with her father... there were so many similar connections that seemed familiar in this book that took me on a rollercoaster ride, although I am a very much a down to earh sort of a woman, I, too ended up crying at the end.

@ P Reid - Excessive alcohol intake has ruined many lives

I am really sorry you have gone through this. Being married for so long and living that nightmare , my God, I have no idea how you are coping. I only wish you have strong positive support around you to help you manage. Thank you for reading my story and connecting with Zara. Yes, if you have suffered emotional abuse you will definitely cry and connect with Zara's pain. Thank you for sharing this with me and everyone on this site. Sending you many blessings and positive thoughts your way. Adalina xxx.

A story of strength and family

What a book... I could not put it down. It was like I knew the characters and was following them through Zara's journey. The writing is so compelling. Fantastic review by Dennis - sums up the book prefectly. So nice to see a story touch someone so deeply. Thanks Adalina!!

@ Carolina - Zara's journey is amazing

Thank you, I am glad you read my story. And yes you are right Mr Moore summed up the book perfectly, especially Zara's mental troubles. I am glad you couldn't put the book down. That really make me happy, actually it gives me goose bumps. lol.... Many blessings to you Carolina... Adalina xx

Raw and heartfelt

A fantastic review, I just wanted to add that I felt this story to be so raw and heartfelt that whether it is based on fiction or non, this may be why the author chose to credit it to fiction. After feeling so vulnerable her whole life and then to find the courage to write about it, you could understand why she may have wanted to mask the entire truth and save a little bit of a 'hidden face' behind the story. Also whilst sad but true, there are also so many sensitivities in the world today behind the religious references through her relationships. Without preaching, but had these sensitivities not prevailed so strongly, Zara would have found love and the long yearned security, so early on. Instead, so much hostility and heartache was to be had!! I also feel that whilst Zara was a victim of abuse, it was also so heartbreaking to learn that if they could have saved her Father from his own demons, he had a lot of love and nurturing to give - something Zara always held on to but out of her reach. A massive takeaway here is that the 'demons' need help too. So many mixed emotions told in a real and raw way, that you can't help but to be taken on the journey with Zara.

@ Di Mary - The father had his own demons

Di Thank you for your heartfelt comment, you have obviously read the story. I think you are right about the religious sensitivities in the world today and perhaps that was the core problem why Zara struggled to find love. She found him but couldn't be with him. In reference to the father, I can personally express my true affections on this topic, Zara's relationship with her father was based on my life with my father. He certainly needed help. In part two, Zara tries to find why her father became a violent alcoholic and why he became so angry. What were his triggers and mostly WHY? As you may have read the last sentence in the story Zara says: " I will find out what happened to you Dad." So ! lets see what happens in part 2 Nothing Can Last Forever. Many blessings Di. Adalina xx.

This story is truly amazing- I read it. TWICE

Mr Moore that is a great review. Isnt it amazing of Adalina Mae to portray Zara as a stong female for women to be inspired by her strength. I was taken by this story as my background is also a Lebanese Christian like Zara. Adalina certainly got the culture and humor of Zara perfectly, particularly, the tension between Muslim and Christian Lebanese marriages. Overall I loved Zara's story and strength. It's great Ms Mae showed that love conquers all no matter what religion. I congratulate her for touching your emotions, bonding you closer with your daughter and understanding her relationships. I can see this story will touch many families bonding them together through the message of what Zara tells us. Its sad to know Adalina experienced the abuse . however , showing women can be strong no matter what their circumstances are is a great message for readers. Thank you Adalina, this story is an inspiration to many women and I thank you for spreading the message of forgiveness and strength to the world. This definitely needs to be a movie, I've been following Ms Mae's posts. This is a cultural new read that readers need that has many emotional chapters and humor thrown in to diversify the mood. The scene with Zara at her dad's graveyard singing to him really touched me. i highly recommend this story for anyones reading list.

@ Naomi D - So you are Lebanese?

Naomi, You read it twice !!! wow!!!! thank you so much. I guess the sarcasm of Zara resonated with you, its pretty much how the "Lebs" react and think. hahahaha Yes, Zara is a strong woman indeed, Zara's love of her life was Muslim and yes LOVE conquers all no matter what cultural differences we all have. Being of Christian background yourself, you will totally understand the conundrum caused especially when Zara married Tariq. Grrrrrrrr. Ultimately , the message is about Forgiveness that sets you free. The most rewarding feeling one could achieve. Many blessings to you Naomi. Adalina xx.

The author's title, "Nothing

The author's title, "Nothing is Predictable" reminds me of my favorite quote in the Forrest Gump movie; "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you'll get out to it." That quote seems apropos for the scenario in this book review. It appears that this author or the protagonist Zara, in the story, suffered some serious trauma as a child. Unfortunately, it's the type of trauma that far too many innocent children have experienced during their young lives. Child Sexual Abuse Statistics report that before age eighteen, 1 in every 4 girls are sexually abused and 1 in every 6 boys. Regrettably, the data reports that 85% of sexual abuse victims never report their abuse; 30 - 40% are abused by a family member; 50% by someone they know and trust. And the data gets worse and worse because none of this should be happening in the first place, and especially to innocent children as victims. If the author really was a child sexual abuse victim and never got any professional counseling, this may well be cathartic and cleansing for her to release her pain through this book, yet presenting it as fictional. As a writer, I understand the process of releasing those inner passions through your writings. Mine however is through nonfiction, but hers is fiction, yet factual in many regards. I pray this story will not only benefit the author, Adalina Mae, but all those who read her story and hopefully receive mental and emotional freedom from it. Thanks Dennis for your review and your transparency. Grace and peace, Dorothy Bracy Alston, author "How to Whup the Devil™ A Spiritual Weapons Guide."

@Dorothy B Alston - It sure is Cathartic

Dorothy, Thank you for your comment, the statistics are shocking aren't they? The process of writing this novel was indeed a cleansing process. I never discussed or dealt with my inner demons until the past couple of years. Writing my story has been the most rewarding achievement. I do hope many readers benefit from the message and learn to deal with their pain and have the courage to speak out. Thank you for taking the time to respond. Many blessings Adalina. xx

@Dennis Moore - So happy for you.

Dennis, you do not understand how happy you have made me knowing the bond you now have with your daughter. The best gift I have ever received. "Forgiveness set us free from all our burdens". Adalina. xx

Another Great Review

With more and more women penning autobiographical and fictionalized accounts of their life's journey which often involves their having been abused, one might surmise that this trend is symptomatic of their seeking answers to this regrettable and all-too-common occurrence. MJ Payne's statement that adults are not always aware of symptoms exhibited when a child is a victim of abuse resonates strongly with this writer; and that furthermore, repressed feelings that the undeveloped brain does not yet know how to express or contextualize can result in relationship and other issues in later life. Writing about such, whether nonfiction of fictionalized, can serve as a catharsis for the writer in her search to understand and place in perspective events such as recurring nightmares and fragments of memories--missing pieces of a mosaic that the author seeks to complete. Thank you, Dennis for your great review of Ms. Adalina May's title, "Nothing is Predictable." ---KB Schaller, Author, 100+ Native American Women Who Changed the World."

@KB Schaller - Cathartic experience.

Thank you for your comment, I must say, writing this novel has been cathartic, whether they are applicable to Zara's events or not. I think many readers will find, in some way or another, a connection they can relate to with some of Zara's mental and emotional battles. We all have our inner demons that suffocate us whilst we search for justifiable answers. Repressed emotions are the biggest contributors to one's suffering. We all need to learn and understand, we have the right to speak out and reach for help, particularly, if one sees a recurring pattern that hinders the progress of mental development and success in life. I am surprised with the amount of help I have received just from reading the reviews of the story. Writing this novel has truly been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. I am most grateful. Many blessings Adalina xx.

Nothing is Predictable by Adalina Mae

Firstly, the book's cover design is quite interesting, congratulations to the Designer. This book seems to tell the story of a woman's view of her childhood that was mired with trauma, stress, abuse and other adult matters that a child should not have had to deal with. Based on Dennis's review. I get the impression that the author- Adalina, despite the many years of therapy, still has not overcome these traumas, maybe it's because she has not fully come to grips with the loss of her father - she said "..... I hate him for what he did to Mum and all of us, he ruined our family. I’m very angry at him for leaving us and not being there for us.,...."; and it has been twenty eight years!! I imagine that this is hard but the fact that she is able to write about it is good therapy. Also, I believe that Adalina subconsciously knows why she made some wrong choices with men, not only because she has some mistrust issues but also because she continues to hold on to her past, she even says “Maybe that was the reason I was attracting the wrong men in my life. I had anger and ‘Daddy’ issues to deal with. I was attracting everything that reminded me of Dad: trauma, drama, betrayal, and loss.” The good thing is that she knows the reason, which is a step in the right direction. I like this book review, it was thorough, and precise, and I like the fact that Mr. Moore was able to relate Adalina's experience to that of his own daughter. Further, the visuals draw the reader in, and I look forward to the movie version. Submitted by Jacqueline Carr - Author of "Quiet Thoughts" and "A Selected Few Just For You"

@Jacqueline - Step in the right direction

Thank you Jacqueline for your comment. It is indeed an arduous process holding on to anger without the ability to identify the behavior and attraction to what is known as the "familiar" environment. As a child, Zara was torn between the benevolence of her father and the "monster" he became when he was drunk. She had it in her to believe that love did exist, but was also confused about how it was presented to her. Thank you for understanding the mental and emotional effect it had. Many blessings Adalina xx.

@Jacqueline - Book Cover

And YES !!!! I love the book cover. The elements represent the storyline perfectly. Particularly the musical symbols, when Zara found peace in front of her Dad's grave, after 28 years. She began to sing to him to let him know his little princess is there with him. xx

@Dennis Moore - Thank you for this wonderful profound review.

I am honored you engaged your personal experiences that connected you to Zara’s. That is one thing I have realized with this story. Many readers have connected in some way or another to some parts of Zara’s life. Yours I must say is most touching. It must have been emotional for you to read it, I guess it's the ultimate connection a writer wants with readers. I hope you and your daughter find peace and move forward happily. She is a lucky woman, she still has you in her life. Unfortunately, after 28 years, Zara found peace curling up in front of her dads grave singing to him and only visualizing him hugging her. You have outlined the most important message of the story. The disruptive childhood that leads to Zara’s instability and troubled life with the wrong choice of men, battling with her inner demons without understanding why. Thank you for this wonderful and profound review Dennis. I wish you many blessings. xx Something for the readers: Zara in Nothing is Predictable inspires optimism and positive thoughts, reminding us we are strong and can overcome life’s challenges. Most importantly, the message to learn to let go and forgive.

"Nothing Is Predictable" by Adalina Mae

Adalina, the honor and pleasure is all mine, that you gave me the opportunity to do some sole searching. Yes, my daughter is the most important person in my life, just as Zara was to her father. Zara curling up in front of her dad's grave, singing to him and only visualizing him hugging her, after some 28 years, is something that my daughter and I still can do. Your book has touched me, and I am sure will touch so many others, and the ultimate for you and this fantastic book and story is to see it on a movie screen one day. Again, thank you for giving me the opportunity of writing the review.

Children and Memory Re: Dennis Moore Review

It is important to remember as one person commented, that children's brains are not completely developed. That does not mean they tell lies or make things up, it just means that is one of the reasons the memories are fragments and are often repressed. Children are not emotionally or physically ready to experience adult activities. Sadly babies are also abused commonly and considering they have very little speech if any to form thoughts about what has happened to them, their memories are often physical feelings and sometimes can be remembered from body sensations.Abuse affects brain development. It affects health, sleep patterns, substance abuse patterns, relationship patterns, and the will to live. It is in no way hopeless though, if people open their eyes and are willing to notice if a child seems abnormally upset continually. You could change a life or help someone live by what you observe. Really, it's worth it. MJ Payne, author "The Remembered Self: A Journey into the Heart of the Beast."

"Nothing Is Predictable" by Adalina Mae

MJ, I actually forwarded my review of this book to you, because I thought it would resonate with you the most, based on my earlier review of your book; "The Remembered Self." I can't wait to get my hands on your next book, as I am sure it will be just as insightful.

@MJ Payne - Interesting indeed

Thank you MJ, You seem to have looked into this area extensively. I agree with all that you have mentioned. Particularly, the detailed effects with body sensations, and developed patterns and memory issues. Unfortunately, some adults do not realize the abnormal behavior of a child. They are consumed with their life's battles raising their children and or career challenges, the signs are often missed. Especially if one is not educated to understand all this. As for Zara's experience, her mother and siblings also suffered an abusive life, I doubt they were capable of seeing and understanding the signs. So it is natural indeed for Zara to grow up with a disruptive pattern when the surrounding is the result of the same effect. It's sad though isn't it. I hope they can implement more special therapy classes in schools to help children open up about their troubles before disruption impregnates their mental development. Children need to understand it's ok to talk about their violence and abuse. They should be taught its their right to speak out at that age. Thank you for your significant input MJ. I appreciate your engagement with this review. Many blessings Adalina xx.

Flashes & Nightmares Re: Dennis Moore Review

Excellent review as always, Dennis. It is understandable that Zara is angry about children who have "normal" childhoods. After the research I did when I completed my horror memoir I discovered that child abuse is rampant and institutionalized world wide. It is as common as bread and butter for abuse victims to choose abusive mates as adults. People tend to move toward what is known, whether good or bad as it is familiar. Change is painful which is why therapy is so hard. Memories of trauma tend to be incomplete flashes and it is common for victims to suffer delayed onset recall. They don't begin to remember until grown when flashes of strange things come into their minds, many from dreams. Recurrent nightmares are a sign of trauma. The fragmented memories will most always be different than regular memories from normal events.Since child abuse is so common within families as well as institutions it is most worthwhile to learn the signs of abuse in order to prevent or stop it when you notice signs in any children you come into contact with. Most abuse occurs against children four and under and the abuser is a known person. This book sounds interesting and entertaining as well as a source of information. MJ Payne, author, "The Remembered Self: A Journey into the Heart of the Beast".

Moore's (typical) excellent review leads me to this --

Our perception on life is developed between the ages of zero and seven, according to the author, and considering that scientists have found that the average brain doesn't mature until age thirty, then individuals between seven and thirty are living immaturely only on perceptions, which explains Zara's early problems which were only exacerbated by her "Daddy" issues. . . .(It also explains some of my behavior in those ages but we won't go there.) . . . As for life thank heavens it's not predictable. That gives us a good reason to stick around and see what's next now that we're mature and can deal with it (heh).

@Don Bacon. Absolutely !

Don I couldn't agree with you more. yes! Thank God Nothing Is Predictable and as I also say Nothing Can Last Forever. It is interesting that the brain doesn't mature until the age of thirty living only on perception. It is a long part of one's journey to live on assumptions. Gosh ! the damage that can be done during that process. :) With everything going on in this world it makes me wonder if scientists need to revise that theory and move it to the age of 50. Lol. Thank you for your feedback Don, I hope you get to read Zara's story. It's not all traumatic, there are some funny and adventurous scenes that will make you chuckle here and there. Many blessings Adalina xx .

Nothing Can Last Forever

Zara is quite the individual. Her story is, in many ways, quite remarkable. It's an engaging story--one I will have to read in full. I love Dennis Moore's reviews. It seems he always chooses the most interesting books to read and review.

@Carole McKee - Thank you

Hi Carole, I do hope you get to read the full story. I would love to engage with readers and get their feedback. Please keep me posted with your thoughts and views. I would love to hear them. Many blessings Adalina.xx