The first half of the book is about Khadra growing up in America – in the first few years of elementary school, of dealing with issues like “pig in candy corn,” wearing hijaab for the first time and dealing with the abuse of racist KKK neighbourhood members, and teen angst and rebellion expressed through support of the Shi’a group Amal.
so if you don’t like knowing about the ending of books, don’t read this review! A hijabi on the cover (okay, so she’s wearing jeans…), and (seemingly) good reviews from when I did a quick Google search on it.
To tell the truth, it’s actually not that bad – the first half, anyway. Okay, you’re probably wondering what I’m talking about (if you haven’t noticed the title of the post…).
At this point, I had gone around telling everyone I met what a great book this was… After the abortion, and her community’s reaction to it (NOT violent, just in case you were wondering), she goes to Syria to her aunt – who also introduces her to a “different” way of thinking, as she recovers from the stress and trauma of the abortion. In the second, we see that there is a heightened sense of the dramatic (not doing things that they wanted to, even if it was haraam, means that they’re “repressing their inner selves” – something mentioned earlier on in the book, like when Khadra stopped riding her bike) and apparently no concept of sacrificing for the sake of Allah, no awareness that whenever a Muslim gives up something for his/her Lord to ward of His Punishment or to earn His Pleasure, Allah will replace it with something better (whether it’s in this world or in the Hereafter).
little did I know that my feelings of joy at discovering a really good book of Muslim fiction that didn’t follow the usual “oppressed Muslim woman sees the light of Western Civilization” storyline would quickly disappear! I totally agree with Khadra’s husband – riding a bike in public isn’t quite seemly of a Muslim woman. She eventually returns to America, where she lives far away from her family and any Muslim community – it’s also where Eventually, Khadra ends up back in her old city, where she meets up with an old childhood friend, now a trombone-playing former imam (he gave up being an imam so that he could continue his hobby of playing at jazz clubs). In conclusion: Looking at the book from a purely literary point of view, I’d give it 4/5.
Anyway, here are the relevant bits from the book, presented in respective order: “Well, why are you Muslim then? and then she’s off to the racetrack, on a family-friendly outing with Hakim al-Deen (aka the trombone dude) to watch his sister be the first Muslim woman to drive on a racetrack.