I love being able to peek inside different cultures, worlds, and across the globe through books. It reminds me how small my corner of the world is, how little I've experienced, and how much more is out there, if only I choose to look for it.
It can also be a lovely reminder that as different as people look from me, they are still people with families, loves, hopes, dreams, and disappointments. Sometimes, especially in times of fear and confusion, it is easy to distance ourselves from others and create distrust where there really is no reason for there to be any.
This is one of those books that could bring people together.
It did take me a little bit to get used to the structure, as the book moves through time fluidly, not really pausing to let the reader know that the narrative is going to shift back ten years in the past or fast forward to several months later. So sometimes you are playing catch-up or having to reread a few sentences once you figure out what is going on.
I thought this style of writing, though definitely a bit difficult to keep up with, echoed the motif of memory that is played with throughout the book. Our brains don't categorize thoughts and memory chronologically. We flit around, one thing reminding us of this other thing from our childhood, which brings us back to that other moment, and so on. I thought the structure was an interesting representation of how we process thought and memory.
Dropping in on the lives of each member of an American-Muslim family as they wind around each other, this book weaves a tangled web of family, community, and society, each circle drawing different restrictions around them or conclusions about them.
I loved the story of the book and think it is one of those books that everyone could benefit from reading. I did find the sentence structure and general voice of the book to be a bit repetitive, which made the book difficult to read in long stretches. But as a debut novel, this really is a fantastic book.
This book reminded me a lot of another family drama I recently loved, The Family Tabor by Cherise Wolas. If you loved this book, I highly, highly recommend you check out Cherise's beautiful writing and immaculately woven story.
My thanks to Crown Publishing, Hogarth, and SJP for sending me a free copy of this book to read and review.
Assistant editor, amateur photdographer, bibliophile, and occasional sleuth.