Genres: Family Drama, Literary Fiction, Historical Novel
In this debut novel, Anna waits in the dark, terrorized, as her abusive husband yells for her at night with increasing rage, and then dies of a heart attack. As she tries to hide her relief, she now has to deal with the consequences of his death and make peace with her past. As a daughter of Syrian immigrants living in segregated US in the 1950s, her white neighbors were not too fond of her, and once suspicion arises of her having something to do with her husband’s death, Anna is in great danger.
I started this novel completely hooked – it opens with Anna as she discovers the body of her husband, and I was so full of questions. Also the fact that she is a daughter of immigrants from Syria made me even more interested in the story. However, it felt like the story starts up in flames and slowly turns to a small fire, and finally ashes by the end of the book. It picks up the curiosity of the reader in the first chapters, but there are many, many flashbacks inserted, breaking the flow of the story. Not all the flashbacks felt relevant, either.
This was a wonderful book, with amazing writing and it was very difficult to read at times. Anna goes through so much, so many horrors, so much loneliness, so much rejection. I didn’t like her character much and disagreed with the way she made decisions or explained herself to people, but of course I have no actual basis to judge her – how would I know? So I accepted it and empathized with her situation. I wanted so many times to scream at her to leave the town with her children. It was a very sad story, and quite depressing, too. With not much help and no true friends, Anna suffered a lot in silence. The race discussion in the book felt a little brushed over, I would have liked to see more of it.
I recommend this book if you love family dramas and are okay with a slow-paced stories. This can be a very depressing book, so if you’ve not been feeling so well, maybe skip this one.
Trigger Warnings: domestic abuse, violence, rape attempt, unhealthy relationships, racism.