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review 2017-08-18 20:20
Powerful novel about current day issues of terrorism, immigration and multiculturalism!
Home Fire: A Novel - Kamila Shamsie

Home Fire, Kamila Shamsie, author; Tania Rodrigues, narrator

When I turned the last page of the book I was struck dumb. I didn’t expect the ending, and I highly recommend that no one attempt to read the ending before they begin. Don’t peek, I implore you! The story plays out logically and clearly, and at the end, it will make the reader question his/her views on immigration, terrorism, Muslims, and also the government, with its regulations and its representatives with regard to all those issues. Most likely, the reader will bounce back and forth, for and against each idea as the story unfolds.

When it begins, the reader meets Isma Pasha, the caregiver of her twin siblings, Aneeka and Parvaiz; she is living in England. She is thoughtful and reserved, observes the ritual of prayer, though not five times a day, and wears a hijab, but is not extreme in her views. She is careful about how she expresses herself because of her father’s past. He was a known jihadist. When her twin siblings were orphaned, at age 12, she, almost 19, put her life on hold and stepped in to care for them. Now that they are 19, she would like to continue living her own life. When she is given the opportunity, by a former teacher, Dr. Hira Shah, to study at Amherst University, in Massachusetts, she grabs it. There she meets Eamonn, the son of the Home Secretary in England, Karamat Lone. She becomes enamored with Eamonn, but it is unrequited love because Eamonn considers himself like her brother. However, he does become interested in her sister after seeing her photo. Aneeka is beautiful.

When Isma made her decision to leave Wembley for America, it portended great changes for the twins, but they seemed to take the news well, with Parvaiz showing a bit more concern about it. He did not want to move out of his home to live with his Aunty Naseem. Feeling more abandoned than his sister, who can already taste the greater freedom she will have, his personality begins to change. He becomes more secretive and reticent. He meets and becomes completely entranced by Farook who becomes a father figure of sorts as he twists Parvaiz’s mind into thinking that he too should leave Wembley, but not for the purpose of study like his sister. When Farook tells him that men should be in charge of women, Parvaiz likes the idea. He believes his life is suddenly coming apart due to the actions of his sisters. He is an innocent who is unsuccessful academically, under employed and very naïve; when Farook lionizes Adil Pasha, Parvaiz’s  father, for his jihadism, he is easily seduced. Farook convinces him to leave England for Syria and to join him in his fight for the Caliphate.

Aneeka wears a hijab and prays, is a free spirit and much more outgoing and modern than her quieter, modest sister. She seems quick to judge and is impulsive, expecting to get her way because of her beauty. When she learns that her sister has betrayed her brother, reporting him to the authorities, they become estranged. She becomes very involved with the same Eamonn her sister knew. Does she have an ulterior motive, or is it a true made in heaven romance? The twin’s relationship is very close, something I can completely understand. As a twin, I can relate to the special bond that exists, the special loyalty that embraces the siblings. Twins have a unique connection and the absence of one often makes the remaining one feel incomplete. I can identify with Aneeka’s unconditional devotion to Parvaiz.

At 19, Isma felt forced to make very different choices than her siblings did at the same age of 19, and as her mother did as a young woman when she married Adil Pasha who became a warrior for the Caliphate. Throughout the narrative, there is a thread about the travails of being “other” in a country. They are Asians of Pakistani origin; their skin color, religious practice and relationship to terrorism and terrorists affects their behavior everyday. They feel like outsiders. They have to be more careful than most, careful not to create suspicion by doing anything another would not even give a second thought. Their “Britishness” is questioned, as is their loyalty. Any relationship by anyone with a terrorist is scrutinized, recorded and monitored.  Although the twins never knew their father, since he left their mother before they were born, the stigma of his terrorism follows them also, and leaves its mark on them, their relatives and their future prospects. It vaguely reminded me of what happens in Israel when generations are punished for the behavior of one miscreant. Families become collateral damage. Is that necessary or just?

The book highlights the cycle of mistrust and violence that exists in this age of terrorism, in this age of Islamic extremism. America is perhaps, among other things, hated for its tactics in fighting the radicals, for its black op sites, for Guantanamo; Britain is perhaps despised for its welcoming of them and then its attempt to control them. Pakistan seems to encourage them by doing nothing to mitigate the extremism and may actually seem to be allowing it to fester. In the book, the feeling imparted is that the jihadists feel rejected and abused by their host countries. None of them seems to feel any remorse or take responsibility for their own brutality. They are defiant, feel they are justified in their fight and feel outrage about the way they are treated when they are caught. Those that might repent have no way back, no way to escape the heinous battle they have joined.

The cruel examples of radical Muslim behavior, like their treatment of women, even leaving them to die because they are uncovered and must wait for women to come to their rescue, or the practice of crucifixion, beheading, torture, and rape, are varied and many. It is hard to know, sometimes, on which side to come down regarding one’s sympathy in each specific instance, but the viciousness of the followers of this strict Koranic interpretation cannot but help sway the reader’s judgment in one direction or another. 

When the book begins, we witness the humiliation of Isma, because of her family history of terrorism, even though she is quite innocent. When it ends, we witness the result of the hard line responses to the problem of a hard line interpretation of a religious belief, and once again, we witness the suffering of those who are quite innocent because of a fear which is at times rational and at other times irrational, and  that promotes tragic results. Two parents make choices which will follow them for generations. There was the  Muslim family and the Christian family, the poor side of society and the wealthy side of society, the clash of cultures and beliefs that caused the apprehension, or perhaps panic, that may or may not have been justified at times; but the misunderstandings, by so many, l were pervasive all the time.

I enjoyed the audio but found that sometimes the narrator failed to delineate characters engaged in conversation. They sounded alike and it was difficult to determine who was speaking. Although this is a retelling of the Greek tragedy, the story of Antigone, by Sophocles, one does not have to know the classic to fully appreciate the novel.

There are many common threads and questions arising in the story that make for great discussion.

1-Aneeka easily seduces Eamonn, the son of the Home Secretary. One has to wonder about her reasons. Are they selfish, matters of the heart, or perhaps even vengeance because of Isma’s part in the trouble Parvaiz now faces.

2-Meanwhile, when Parvaiz is seduced by Farook, what is it that makes him such easy prey?

3-Adil Pasha, the jihad, fought to establish the Caliphate. He was a devout Muslim. Did his folly infect his family into the future? What about the Home Secretary’s actions? “Were the sins of the father visited upon the sons?”

4-The Home Secretary renounced his Moslem religion to fit in. He believed “outsiders” should make themselves less different in order to be successful. Why did he believe it was necessary to do this?

5--Should Isma have been so thoroughly demoralized, scrutinized and humiliated at the airport because of family history when she tried to travel to America? She had not committed any crime, and her behavior was always exemplary. Where should the line be drawn between suspect and innocent victim?

6-Did personal animus play a part in every decision each character made? Was their intellect sidelined by the influence of their past and their conflicting emotions? 

7-Did continued stubborn adherence to rules without the ability to bend them when necessary bring about tragedy?

8-Each character made what they thought was a good choice, but it turned out otherwise. If we compare the choices of Isma, Aneeka, Parvaiz, Eamonn, Adil, and Karamat, are any of them appropriate and what makes them so?

9-If someone makes a terrible choice, as in jihadism, should there be no avenue for forgiveness when the error of that choice is recognized? Is there no hope for redemption, for forgiveness? Can that person ever be trusted again?

10-Was there one point in the narrative that foreshadowed the events or was the catalyst leading to all others?

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review 2017-08-17 15:54
Mary's Home (Peace in the Valley #3) by Jerry S. Eicher
Mary's Home (Peace in the Valley Book 3) - Jerry S. Eicher

Mary's Home is book 3 of the Peace in the Valley Series by Jerry S Eicher. In this book we meet Mary Yoder. Her dreams are to be a upstanding citizen in her Amish community and to have a home and family of her own.  This was a really good book. Kept me reading to see which shoe so to speak was going to drop next. There was a lot going on in this book. 


At first she meets Josiah and they decide to marry. Right before the wedding he decides he no longer wants to get married. Mary is left heart broken. Later on she finds out he has found a new love and has set his new wedding date. It just so happens to be the same date they were to be married.  


Stephen another man from her community then sets his on on Mary. Mary dos not care for Stephen in the same way and decides her best bet is to help Stephen find his mate since she does not want it to be herself. 


Then Mary meets Willard. Willard is the some on Mary's neighbor. He has come to visit for a week.  Willard has his own plans for life. He is a missionary to Kenya. As Mary and Willard spend time together during the week their feelings grow for each other. Mary is left wondering what God's plans for her are. Should she marry Willard and go to Kenya or stop the romance and stay in the community hoping for another chance at her dreams of her own home and family. 


Also int he book we meet Mary's sister Betsy. As a child Betsy was burned in an accident on her face and has scars. Betsy is considering jumping the fence and living in the English world. Mary has more to worry about then just her dreams as she tries to help Betsy.  


I received this book from the Author or Publisher via Netgalley.com to read and review.

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review 2017-08-13 15:43
Short and sweet read
Dragon Home (Supernatural Consultant) - ... Dragon Home (Supernatural Consultant) - Mell Eight

Another sweet addition to the series. This time it's Aqua's turn to find a friend. 
Jealous of his brother's relationship with Nixie, Aqua is sent on an adventure of his own. The only stipulation is to avoid Texas. Of course Aqua ends up in the desert...

Half hour read. Sweet with nothing more than a few hugs. Ash is an interesting character, almost an outcast from his group. And Aqua's protective instinct is a contrast to his spoilt nature at the beginning of the story. 

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review 2017-08-09 16:41
Bring Her Home - David Bell
I love David Bell's books. I know when I pick one up to read that I am assured of a great read. That assurance certainly was true, yet again, with this book.

The plot twists involved while Bill Price is searching for his daughter, Summer, are jaw dropping. The suspect list is long and seeing Bill literally beat his way to finding his daughter is heart breaking. Especially so soon after losing his wife.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and my inability to put it down proved that fact. A read that will have you turning the pages without noticing the time, that I loved!

Thanks to Berkley Publishing Group and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased opinion.


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review 2017-08-08 10:33
Eindringlich, psychologisch vielschichtig, unverzichtbar
Beloved - Toni Morrison

Interessiert man sich für weibliche, afroamerikanische Literatur, kommt man an Toni Morrison nicht vorbei. 1993 erhielt sie als erste schwarze Frau den Literaturnobelpreis. Bereits fünf Jahre zuvor wurde ihr Roman „Beloved“, in dem sie sich mit der Geschichte der Sklaverei in den USA auseinandersetzt, mit dem Pulitzer-Preis ausgezeichnet. Das Buch basiert lose auf der Biografie von Margaret Garner, die 1856 ihre zweijährige Tochter tötete, um sie vor einem Leben in Sklaverei zu bewahren. Ich habe lange gebraucht, bis ich bereit für „Beloved“ war. Tatsächlich begann ich das Buch schon einmal, bemerkte aber, dass ich mit dem Schreibstil noch nicht zurechtkam und stellte es zurück ins Regal. Drei Jahre wartete es geduldig auf mich.


18 Jahre ist es her, dass Sethe eine Sklavin in Sweet Home war. Unaussprechliches wurde ihr angetan, bis sie, hochschwanger und allein, floh. Zu Fuß schlug sie sich nach Ohio durch, wo sie im Haus ihrer Schwiegermutter Baby Suggs unterkam. Heute ist die 124 ihr Heim, in dem sie mit ihrer Tochter Denver lebt. Freiheit ist jedoch mehr als ein physischer Zustand. Noch immer wird Sethe von ihren Erinnerungen heimgesucht. In ihrem Haus spukt der Geist ihres Babys, auf dessen Grabstein ein einziges Wort eingraviert ist: Beloved. Als ein Besucher aus ihrer Vergangenheit eines Tages auf der Schwelle der 124 auf Sethe wartet, scheint es, als erhielte sie erstmals eine Chance auf wahres Glück. Doch diese Hoffnung währt nur einige Herzschläge, denn kurz darauf tritt eine junge Frau in ihr Leben, die Sethes Glauben, ihre Mutterliebe und ihr Verständnis von Freiheit hart auf die Probe stellt. Sie sagt, sie heißt Beloved…


Wie könnte ich für dieses preisgekrönte Buch weniger als fünf Sterne vergeben? „Beloved“ ist ein moderner Klassiker, der das vor allem in den USA ungeliebte Thema der Sklaverei psychologisch vielschichtig und glaubwürdig bespricht. Erstaunlicherweise halte ich den Roman trotz dessen nicht für eine Abhandlung über Sklaverei. Meiner Meinung nach ist es eine Geschichte darüber, was Freiheit bedeutet, speziell für farbige Frauen. Laut Vorwort entspricht dieser Eindruck auch Toni Morrisons Intention. Die Handlung spielt vermutlich zwischen 1865 und 1890, nach dem amerikanischen Sezessionskrieg und der offiziellen Abschaffung der Sklaverei. Im Mittelpunkt stehen Vergangenheit und Gegenwart der Protagonistin Sethe, die untrennbar miteinander verwoben sind. Sethe lebte viele Jahre als Sklavin auf der Farm Sweet Home in Kentucky, bis sie die Qualen unter ihren weißen Herren nicht mehr aushielt und den gefährlichen Entschluss traf, zu fliehen. Ich war sehr dankbar, dass Sethes Sklavenzeit zur Gegenwart des Buches bereits knapp 20 Jahre zurückliegt. Dadurch erlebte ich ihr Leid mit einem gewissen Abstand und war nicht gezwungen, die furchtbaren Torturen, die ihr angetan wurden, live zu beobachten. Ich will damit nicht ausdrücken, dass ich die Augen vor der Realität verschließe, doch die menschenunwürdigen Methoden der Sklavenhalter in Sweet Home waren selbst als Rückblenden äußerst schwer zu ertragen. Sethes Rücken ist von Narben entstellt, die Zeugnis vom brutalen, rücksichtslosen Einsatz der Peitsche tragen. Morrison vergleicht das Narbengewebe mit einem Baum, aus dem neues Leben entspringt – als ich diesen Absatz las, liefen mir Tränen über die Wangen, weil es mir sehr zu Herzen ging, dass die Autorin für etwas so schreckliches und falsches wundervolle Worte fand. Ihren Schreibstil empfand ich insgesamt als sanftmütig, gefasst und würdevoll; sie wedelt nicht mit dem moralischen Zeigefinger vor den Augen ihrer Leser_innen, sondern lässt die beschämenden Wahrheiten ihrer Geschichte für sich selbst sprechen. Sie deutet vieles erst nur an und führt es später genauer aus, wodurch sich das Gesamtbild der Erlebnisse der Sklaven in Sweet Home und ihrer Strategien, ihre Erinnerungen zu verarbeiten, langsam zusammensetzt. Während Baby Suggs ihr Herz für alle öffnete und sich zu einer spirituellen Leitfigur entwickelte, konzentrierte sich Sethe voll auf ihre Mutterrolle. Es stimmte mich traurig, dass Sethe sich zwar selbst befreite, aber niemals frei wurde. Ihre Vergangenheit bestimmt noch immer jeden ihrer Schritte. Sie verfolgt keine Pläne oder Träume, weil ihre Fähigkeit zur Fantasie irreparabel verkrüppelt wurde. Sie flüchtet sich in Gewohnheiten, die ihr Sicherheit vermitteln. Ihr einziger Wunsch lautet, dass ihre Kinder es besser haben sollen. Ich hatte das Gefühl, dass Sethe unbewusst die ganze Zeit darauf wartet, dass das Leben, das sie sich mühsam aufbaute, erneut von außen demontiert wird. Sie erwartet neuen Schmerz, neues Leiden und konnte deshalb nie lernen, ihr Leben auszufüllen, obwohl ihr Lebenswille unfassbar stark ist. So stark, dass sie als Löwenmutter in Kauf nahm, ihre eigene Familie zu zerstören, um ihre Kinder vor den Erfahrungen zu retten, die ihr aufgezwungen wurden. Bis heute beteuert sie die Rechtmäßigkeit ihrer verzweifelten Entscheidungen, doch auf mich wirkte es, als lechze sie nach Absolution. Sie ist nicht überzeugt, dass ihr Handeln richtig war und geißelt sich jeden Tag. Ich habe versucht, mich in sie hineinzuversetzen, herauszufinden, was ich an ihrer Stelle getan hätte. Ich habe keine Antwort gefunden. Ich kann das Ausmaß der Verzweiflung, das Sethe empfunden haben muss, unmöglich nachempfinden, so sehr ich mich auch anstrenge. Darum urteile ich nicht über sie. Ich bemühe mich lediglich, sie zu verstehen, wie Toni Morrison es meiner Ansicht nach auch beabsichtigte.


„Beloved“ ist eine eindringliche Aufarbeitung der psychologischen Folgen der Sklaverei, die unverzichtbar für den amerikanischen und globalen Kanon ist. Toni Morrison sagte einst, dass sie das Buch geschrieben habe, weil es für die Opfer der Sklaverei in den USA keinerlei Denkmäler gäbe. Ich glaube, man muss diesen Roman genau auf diese Weise lesen: als Hommage, als Gedenken, als Anerkennung des millionenfachen Leids, dass die Sklaverei verursachte. Wir müssen uns mit unserer Verantwortung, unserer Schuld auseinandersetzen, nicht nur in den Staaten, sondern weltweit, weil die schiere Dimension der Grausamkeit, mit der Menschen damals wie Vieh behandelt wurden, uns alle angeht. Wir wollen mal nicht vergessen, dass sich auch europäische Länder eine goldene Nase mit dem Sklavenhandel verdienten. Außerdem halte ich eine Aufarbeitung dieses vergangenen Unrechts, wie „Beloved“ sie bietet, für unumgänglich, um gegen dessen Entsprechungen in der Gegenwart kämpfen zu können. Sklaverei wird heute Menschenhandel genannt, aber das Prinzip hat sich nicht verändert. Noch immer gibt es Menschen, die ähnliche Verzweiflung und ähnliches Leid wie Sethe erfahren. Jeden Tag. Überall.

Source: wortmagieblog.wordpress.com/2017/08/08/toni-morrison-beloved
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