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Max lives with his father, Rasheed, and doesn't remember his mother, who was murdered by burglars before father and son were forced from Beirut to New Jersey. Rasheed is enamored of his idea of American culture--baseball and barbecues--and has tried to shed his Lebanese heritage completely: "When we are in America," Reed (for he goes by Reed in America, not Rasheed) tells Max, "we are Americans."
Rasheed has a single purpose in life: to provide Max with a joyful childhood. But sometimes his efforts do more harm than good, and when Max is seventeen, he discovers that his father has been lying to him--about everything--and their peaceful universe is destroyed. Max ventures on an uncertain mission to Beirut to find what he hadn't known was lost.
Lifted by the Great Nothing is a graceful book about the lengths we go to preserve the untruths we live by. With poignant relationships, unsettling misadventures, and surprising love stories, the novel is a touching and devastating portrait of a young man coming to terms with his country's--and his own--violent past.