Harrowing and Thrilling | BookishFirst

Harrowing and Thrilling

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When the Apricots Bloom is a harrowing, dramatic thriller. I think the synopsis conveys that, but the cover makes it seem like literary fiction. The novel follows three women- Ally, Huda, and Rania. Ally is the wife of the Australian deputy ambassador, Huda is the deputy ambassador's secretary, and Rania was Huda's best friends. Their stories and lives become entangled as they have to deal with their past secrets and the current (2005) Iraq. The mukhabarat (or secret police) are always watching. They threaten Huda's son, they dig up secrets on Ally, and they terrorize Rania over her daughter.

Near the end, Huda tells Ally, "In Iraq, every friendship is a risk. You never know who might turn you in for something as small as a joke, or an offhand comment. Perhaps it will be your best friend who gets your tongue cut out. Perhaps it will be a colleague at work. Perhaps they don't want to betray you, but the mukhabarat will harm their children otherwise."

Gina Wilkinson has combined some of her past experiences into the setting, and it's intriguing also terrifying to see what has happened in Iraq.