Booklist Reviews 2017 July #1
*Starred Review* Gut-wrenching and undeniably relevant to today's world, Shamsie's (A God in Every Stone , 2014) newest literary accomplishment focuses on members of two British families of Pakistani heritage and their life-changing decisions and entanglements. Isma Pasha had essentially raised her orphaned younger siblings, twins Aneeka and Parvaiz, although their closeness ended after Parvaiz left for Syria to follow in his absentee father's footsteps as a jihadi. With the beautiful, enigmatic Aneeka in college in London, Isma enrolls in a long-awaited doctoral program in Massachusetts, where she befriends Eamonn, son of rising MP Karamat Lone, a man who built his political career partly on renouncing the Muslim faith of his birth. When Eamonn returns to London, he's swept into a secret love affair whose repercussions have a profound impact on both families. In this multiple-perspective novel, Shamsie peers deeply into her characters' innermost selves, delineating the complicated emotions, idealistic principles, and vulnerabilities that drive them. Scenes showing Parvaiz's mindset as he is indoctrinated into ISIS are daring and incredibly disturbing. In accessible, unwavering prose and without any heavy-handedness, Shamsie addresses an impressive mix of contemporary issues, from Muslim profiling to cultural assimilation and identity to the nuances of international relations. This shattering work leaves a lasting emotional impression. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.
PW Reviews 2017 June #4
Shamsie's memorable novel features timely themes in this epic tale of two Muslim families whose lives are entangled by politics and conflict. As the novel opens, 28-year-old Isma is on her way to the U.S. for a Ph.D. in sociology. She's left behind her siblings, 19-year-old twins Aneeka and Parvaiz, in London. One of the first connections Isma makes in Amherst is an old friend of the family—24-year-old Eamonn, whose father was just elected home secretary of London. Though Isma is immediately smitten, Eamonn only has eyes for Isma's beautiful sister, Aneeka, whom he vows to meet after seeing a photo of the girl at Isma's apartment. When back in London, he tracks Aneeka down and the two fall into a secretive affair, hiding the truth of their relationship from her family. But what Eamonn doesn't realize is that Aneeka has a reason for being with him besides true affection—she wants his help in getting his father to allow safe passage and immunity for Parvaiz, who joined the media arm of a jihadist group in Syria. The novel is separated into five parts, and each reveals a portion of the story from a different character's perspective. The highlights are the sections devoted to Parvaiz's recruitment and personal transformation—they're both salient and heartbreaking, culminating in a shocking ending.