I received this book as a gift however, one of my bookish friends really loved it so I was eager to jump into it.
The story follows two families from Pakistan and Iraq while focusing on two main characters, Anvar and Safwar. Exhausted with living in war torn countries, both families move to the United States of America but through different paths ( one legally and the other illegally). Somehow they cross paths and their interactions with one another changes the way the see the world as they have never viewed it before. This is a story about war, immigration, politics, injustice, discrimination, abuse, religion and love.
I really wanted to love this book. It turned out to be one of those books that start really well for you especially as I found Anvar’s character quite funny and his narrative captivating but after the family left Pakistan to the United States, the story started to change for me and it took me quite a while to get through to the end. Of course, the fact the author explored various themes which are still very relevant in religious communities (not only the Muslim community) especially in terms of what is acceptable as being a good Muslim or Christian deserves some accolades however, I found some of it a bit too “black or white” or “good or bad”. While the experiences and beliefs of the protagonists are valid based on their individual experiences, I believe there are people who are able to strike a balance in the ways that they worship God and this does not mean that because one is devout, he/she is extremist or would be judgmental towards others.
I feel this book had a lot of potential but didn’t hit the mark for me. Since I am all for “own-Voices” narratives, I am however glad that more books like this are being written and stories told. I would recommend this book if you are interested in stories about war, immigration, religion and more. Try to go into it with an open mind.
Rating: 3 Stars
Published: January 11th 2022 (first published February 2nd 2021)
Syed M. Masood is the author of More Than Just a Pretty Face, Sway With Me and The Bad Muslim Discount. He grew up in Karachi, Pakistan, and now lives with his wife and children in Sacramento, California, where he is a practicing attorney. He invites you to visit him online at syed-masood.com and @syedmmasood.
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