What a book. This was my first encounter with Hala Alyan , and wow did it make me feel . Her writing is impeccable , spectacular . This is a character driven book and although I am more for plot driven this book made me feel . It’s a slow build , very slow; and the book didn’t make sense at first . As I dove deeper with every page learning about Ava , Mimi , Naj - their kids their loves their relationships; I felt like by the end of this book I’ve known them my whole life - like family .
This book is simply about a family that looses a loved one and there is a decision to sell the house . Though it’s not like that at all really it’s a story about love , and loss and lust - about all nighters and lost dreams , of hope - of regret , of selfish acts . It’s a story about 5 individual lives that all have secrets , that all share those secrets with other individuals - some who have died and some who haven’t told a soul .
When reading the prologue ( if you want to call it that) it is a bit confusing - we are introduced to a part of the story and characters we have not yet gotten to know . I re read this first into chapter at around page 350 and it made SO much more sense than it did when first picking up this beautiful work .
Part one is getting your feet wet with the three siblings Ava who has two kids , works as a biologist is married to a white male , lives in New York and is what every American dreams - a well established family . But even Ava and Nate have their issues - being married isn’t easy it’s work.
There’s Mimi the brother who is a chef , is in a band (that isn’t failing but isn’t a full success which is his childhood dream) - with a loving girlfriend of many years . Living in Texas .
And Naj the youngest of the three who is living in Beruit - is “closeted” gay who is successful in music and her career - on the brink of Thirty and far far away from the rest of her siblings and her parents .
Part two is the biggest where we learn about Mazna , the beautiful stunning actress of a mother . We learn her story , her growing up , her being poor , her getting her feet into acting , her meeting Idris - her now husband and all that goes along ... her secrets her loves , her losses , her hurt and guilt -
Part three a whirlwind where we are thrown into everyone being in beruit where the conflict is rising- where they are all against Idris wanting to sell their Jiddos home (grandfather) . Where in the years of the family being a family it seems they are closer than ever . Where secrets are spread where realizations are made and where everyone I believe understand the importance of communications and how freeing it can be .
This story was insane . I didn’t much care for it till half way through it is a SLOW SLOW build , but once you are under water in Maznas life , her story it really sucks you in from there and I didn’t want to put it down . It made me realize things , it made me hurt and feel for these people I felt I knew . It made me laugh and it made me cry . I cried the last 30 pages I couldn’t stop . And although I do feel like some of this book is pointless and holds no meaning to what the story is sold about (the selling of this house) at the end it all just makes sense and I feel like it wouldn’t be half the book it is without all that detail . It made me think about that country , what those people went though at the times of war and riots and bombings - it put me in a different mindset , in a different time . I loved it .
What an absolutely beautiful book.
Thank you SO MUCH to @Hmhbooks for the ARC in return for an honest unbiased review .