Acquired via LibraryThing 19 Jan 2009 – from the author

I got talking to the author’s wife about how to spread the word on a self-published book – I often wade in to suggest contacting local BookCrossers etc.  She kindly agreed to get a copy to me via Amazon.

This is an amazing book.  First off, unlike so many self-published books, the writing is excellent and the editing and proof-reading spot-on, so none of those winces as you find yet another glaring error.  The book, although a novel based on fact, reads like non-fiction – which is not a problem as some of the events are quite astounding and might seem unlikely in a novel. 

The book centres on the relationship between Charles Sherman, a Wall Street Lawyer, and Fatima Shihabi, an Iraqi woman poet and journalist who has come onto the wrong side of Saddam Hussain’s secret police.  As Fatima forges her own destiny and starts to escape persecution through her own strength and intelligence, Charles is trying to help her from America, alongside her brother.  Charles’ life is stressed and shot through with survivor guilt from 9/11 and the pull between his partner, Sarah, and his work, and Fatima does not believe that America truly means to help.  Both have their lives and attitidues changed in this fast-paced and heartbreaking book.

There are some upsetting and vivid scenes around 9/11 and human rights abuses (it was nearly too much for me and I had to slightly skim some fight scenes) but these were horribly necessary for the validity of the book and its story.  This dark side is redeemed by the strong thread of love and humanity, and not least by the feisty figure of Fatima’s daughter Latifa.

An important and moving book but also unputdownable.  I will be offering this to the BookCrossing community shortly.