I saw this one browsing our new book shelf the other day and after reading the cover blurb I had to pick it up. Here’s what I thought:
The beginning of this book is really cool – I’m always a sucker for ‘start at the end and show how you got there’ sorts of plot devices – but to begin after the main character’s death, get hints of the backstory in her narration, and then immediately move on to a second first-person narration that truly feels like an entirely different person? GIVE ME MORE.
And more was deftly delivered. This is a complex story, filled with the cultural and social norms of India and Saudi Arabia as seen through the eyes of four teens: Zarin, Porus, Farhad and Mishal, who live in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
It is a difficult story of two women, one an adult and one just on the cusp of adulthood, who suffer from the history of thier family.
It is a troubling story of double-standards and the struggle to understand what that means for both sides of that standard.
It is the universal story of a search for meaning, love, acceptance.
It is a beautiful story, and sad.
But. This is not a story for everyone. Depictions of abuse are common. Sexuality is a core theme. These are dealt with through the eyes of teens who have grown up in – and are accustomed to – the sorts of behaviors depicted. If these sorts of topics are an issue for you, please exercise caution.
That said, it is nuanced and every one of the main voices rings with its own personality and truth, even the main antagonists. No one is what they seem, but everyone is true to who they are.
If you’re looking for a book to make you think, to pull questions from you that you weren’t sure needed asking, this is the book to do it.