Thursday, May 15, 2014

Audiobook Review: American Dervish by Ayad Akhtar

Title:  American Dervish

Author:  Ayad Akhtar

Narrator:  Ayad Akhtar

Unabridged Length:  9 hrs, 31 mn.

Here is a summary of the book from the Goodreads website: 

Hayat Shah is a young American in love for the first time. His normal life of school, baseball, and video games had previously been distinguished only by his Pakistani heritage and by the frequent chill between his parents, who fight over things he is too young to understand. Then Mina arrives, and everything changes.

Mina is Hayat's mother's oldest friend from Pakistan. She is independent, beautiful and intelligent, and arrives on the Shah's doorstep when her disastrous marriage in Pakistan disintegrates. Even Hayat's skeptical father can't deny the liveliness and happiness that accompanies Mina into their home. Her deep spirituality brings the family's Muslim faith to life in a way that resonates with Hayat as nothing has before. Studying the Quran by Mina's side and basking in the glow of her attention, he feels an entirely new purpose mingled with a growing infatuation for his teacher.

When Mina meets and begins dating a man, Hayat is confused by his feelings of betrayal. His growing passions, both spiritual and romantic, force him to question all that he has come to believe is true. Just as Mina finds happiness, Hayat is compelled to act -- with devastating consequences for all those he loves most.

American Dervish is a brilliantly written, nuanced, and emotionally forceful look inside the interplay of religion and modern life. Ayad Akhtar was raised in the Midwest himself, and through Hayat Shah he shows readers vividly the powerful forces at work on young men and women growing up Muslim in America. This is an intimate, personal first novel that will stay with readers long after they turn the last page.

My Review: 
As a Christian I wasn't sure how I would appreciate a novel that goes into the life of a Muslim family.  I do appreciate the story that Akhtar shared with us, giving us honest glimpses of how people are treated both within their religion and those on the outside.  The story is about young Hyat, who has grown up with privileges in the United States, that his family still in Pakistan with never experience.

Although Hyat is growing up in a Muslim home, his parents are not devout Muslims.  They do not attend the mosque meetings regularly or even pray daily.  When Hyat's mother's best friend comes from Pakistan to live with them, she is the one to reveal the Muslim religion to him.  She gives Hyat his own Quran and starts to give him personal lessons to help him comprehend it's meaning.

Hyat puts his Muslim religion before all else as he prays daily and starts the process of memorizing and studying his Quran.  After certain events take place with non-Muslims, Hyat's father becomes more distanced from the Muslim faith.  In a moment of frustration and anger his father even goes so far as to prohibit Hyat from reading the Quran ever again.  But Hyat has the will-power to conduct his studies privately.

As the story unfolds, Hyat learns that his Muslim faith is not what he expected.  He doesn't understand how people that are unforgiving and selfish seem to be the same ones that are highly favored by their God.  Mina tells him to find the answers within himself, while the elders set him on a different journey.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book giving me a glimpse into a culture as it attempts to cross with an American way of life.  Akhtar did a great job narrating this novel, breathing life into Hyat's character, celebrating his happiness and grieving over his frustrations.  With themes of family, faith, and truths, you may enjoy this book as much as I did.  I highly recommend this novel for either personal leisure or as a book club discussion.

My Rating:  5/5

Disclosure:  This audiobook is from my personal library and I listened to it for my own entertainment.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Teaser Tuesday-May 13

Check out Teaser Tuesdays from Should Be Reading. TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

Grab your current read.

Let the book fall open to a random page.

Share with us two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.

You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

This week my teaser is from The Supreme Macaroni Company by Adriana Trigiani:
 "Clickety-Clack regaled me with a half-hour tutorial on face fillers.  I told her the only face fillers Italians believe in are cannolis."

Pg. 37

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mailbox Monday-May 12

Mailbox Monday is a great meme that has us list the books that we receive. You can check out the Mailbox Monday blog to see what everyone else found in their mailboxes.

Look what I got:
Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler (audiobook)

I have had my eye on this book since I spotted it a couple of months ago so I can't tell you how thrilled I was to receive the audio version!  I started it right away and so far I love it!

Did you get anything fun in your mailbox?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Review and Blog Tour: Fallout by Sadie Jones

Thanks once again to Trish from TLC Book Tours for inviting me to be a part of this tour.  This book was a welcome addition to my time on the beach in Isla Mujeres, Mexico!

Here is a summary of the book from the Goodreads website
Sadie Jones, the award winning, bestselling author of The Uninvited Guests and The Outcast, explores the theater of love, the politics of theater, and the love of writing in Fallout-a deeply romantic story about a young playwright in 1970s London.

Leaving behind an emotionally disastrous childhood in a provincial northern town, budding playwright Luke Kanowski begins a new life in London that includes Paul Driscoll, an aspiring producer who will become his best friend, and Leigh Radley, Paul's girlfriend. Talented and ambitious, the trio found a small theater company that enjoys unexpected early success. Then, one fateful evening, Luke meets Nina Jacobs, a dynamic and emotionally damaged actress he cannot forget, even after she drifts into a marriage with a manipulative theater producer.

As Luke becomes a highly sought after playwright, he stumbles in love, caught in two triangles where love requited and unrequited, friendship, and art will clash with terrible consequences for all involved.

Fallout is an elegantly crafted novel whose characters struggle to escape the various cataclysms of their respective pasts. Falling in love convinces us we are the pawns of the gods; Fallout brings us firmly into the psyche of romantic love-its sickness and its ecstasy.

My Review: 
This was my first experience with Sadie Jones as she delivers a story that puts us right in the middle of the theater scene in 1970s London.  All the dynamics of this novel came together so nicely as our characters strive for a career in the theater while trying to balance relationships at the same time.  Luke is our main character and it was inspiring to watch his dreams be realized throughout the book.

As the story opens Luke is a young man living with his father and working at a full-time job.  Luke's life has turned into a life of normalcy, with no surprises to look forward to.  This all changes when one dark, rainy night he runs into Leigh and Paul.  When they learn they have a common interest, love of the theater, a friendship blooms instantly.  Coming from London, Paul and Leigh are regulars to the theater, while Luke has only had the opportunity to read the plays up to this point.  When they go their separate ways after this first meeting, the theater will reunite them in the near future.  

When Luke, Leigh, and Paul, meet up again in London, they live and breathe theater.  Each of them have a different talent they contribute to the artistic scene.  Although Luke and Leigh seem to have a romantic connection, Luke stands aside, allowing Paul to pursue a relationship with her.  After realizing Leigh is unattainable for him, he sets his sights on Nina, a beautiful and talented young actress.  We start to wonder if Luke will ever find true love when he learns that Nina is married to someone who is very influential in the theater scene.

I hope you don't think that I have given too much of the story away by describing the love triangles, but the romantic relationships within the pages of this book are just one small part of the novel in it's entirety.  I am not an avid theater attendee myself, but I had no problem following the language and descriptions within this book.  The writing flowed nicely and always had me wanting to get back to reading it after I set it down.  I do feel that Jones did a great job of portraying the times of this book, and a more conservative reader may not appreciate that.  With themes of love, dreams, and theater, I don't hesitate in recommending this book for either personal leisure or as a book club selection.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  This book was provided to me by the publisher to participate in this blog tour and provide an honest review.