Two refugees find that their lives are inextricably linked—over time and distance—by the perils of history and a single haunting piece of music. Born in Beirut in 1922, Marguerite Toutoungi lives a life of loss and sacrifice. She dreams of traveling to Europe and studying music at the Conservatoire de Paris but her family—and her society—hold her back. When she meets the son of a Cuban tobacco farmer at a formal dance, love transforms her life. Together with him, she flees across the Pacific Ocean. She's hoping for a new beginning. Instead, she finds revolution and chaos.
Over fifty years later, Naïm Rahil is a teenage refugee from Aleppo, Syria. A former piano prodigy who struggles to thrive in America—and who has lost part of his hand in the war—he dreams of a simple, normal life.
Moving from Aleppo on the brink of civil war, to Lebanon in the late 1940s, to Havana during the Cuban Revolution, to the suburbs of Washington, DC, The Refugee Ocean grapples with what it means to be an immigrant, shows how wounds can heal, and highlights the role of music and art in the resilience of the human spirit.