“She had tasted a fruit forbidden to people like her. His world, in fact, had been created to keep people like her out.”
—Excerpt from Aya Dane
Aya Dane, the book’s namesake, is a complicated woman. Past trauma haunts her but drives so much of her artwork and success in the Boston art scene. She keeps everyone at arm’s length, but desperately craves love. This is the classic tale of the tortured artist—with a twist. Aya’s life story somewhat mirrors that of the author—especially as a Moroccan who studied abroad in the US—while incorporating supernatural elements to drive the narrative. The reader’s oscillation between reality and the metaphysical reflects the dissociation that Aya feels to cope with her pain, isolation and frustration. Her journey for personal growth and self-acceptance doesn’t erase her past, but it shows readers that anyone can have a positive, hopeful future. While Aya Dane reads like standard narrative nonfiction novel, it’s much more like a mystery, as readers discover new facets about her character with each page turn.