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betty56 Avatar


I love books from diverse cultures, and particularly stories set in the Middle East. Unfortunately, this book was disappointing for me. Too heavy on the romance and lacking on the differences in religion. For me, the sex scenes were clumsy and unnecessary. The portions involving a Jesuit priest having sex with a female student and encouraging Rasheed to watch was especially disturbing. And Natalia did not seem able to choose a religion. This would have been an excellent historical moment to write of an Arab and a Jew falling in love with each other. But the Jew kept insisting she was Catholic.

I liked the characters, but I felt no emotional connection with them. For some reason I especially had difficulty with Rasheed. I have grown up knowing there are double standards for men and women. Perhaps that is why he did not set well with me. Actions that were taboo for Natalia and Rasheeda were okay for him. But then, the author does advocate for gender equality, and his novel reflects the current inequality.

I think the author tried to cover too much and would have done better just focusing on a more limited generational spread. I don’t think any author could properly cover three generations of a family well in only 237 pages. But I would certainly give this author another chance were he to write a second novel.