My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I've had this book on my shelf for a year. And I bought a second copy! Anyway.... I should've read it sooner. This is another book that I picked up because of the title, though I'm still figuring out it's meaning.
This long tale of a family and all it's secrets, a thirty-something still trying to find her way and figure out who she is, in relation to her parents and her own self, is a great story. Jacob does a great job in weaving in the family culture as part of the story and illustrating who they are. (In so many "diverse" books, the culture becomes the central character, rather than the background.)
Amina deals with not only the loss of her brother and impending loss of her father, but also all of the "rules" and customs that make it not acceptable to talk about it all. Her and her mother have that kind of strained, not close relationship, built on duty rather than any commonality, other than being family. The family shares unconditional love, although no one will say the words. But when it comes to all the important things and needful times, they come together to support each other.
I read the first half of the book in a rare day that I found some quiet hours, then was wrestling to find the time to finish the rest over the next week or so. In my writing group, we've been talking about the proper length for a debut novel. This comes in at 498 pages - way above any recommended length. Which proves that you can break the rules when you make it worth it.
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