By Shaila Abdullah
Rated 3 Stars
My main problem with this story is that I never developed a connection with Arissa the main character. She came across to me as a rather emotionally shallow person. Perhaps it was the authors writing style that bothered me but I felt like the whole book was skimming the surface of her life and her feelings.
I realize Arissa had multiple problems to deal with, a handicapped child, being a widow and single mother and being a muslim in America. But the only thing in the whole book I felt like she truly connected with was her child and that her relationship with him was almost an obsession. I thought she used her in-laws and was glad for them when they finally walked away from her. I dunno, this book just didn't really click for me.
Pakistani-born Arissa Illahi moves to New York City to be with her husband, who had taken a job at the World Trade Center's Windows on the World restaurant to allow time for completing his novel. He perishes when the towers collapse, and Arissa nearly crumples herself as she struggles with tremendous grief, a troublesome pregnancy, and the various trials she faces as a Muslim when others ignorantly associate her with the terrorists. Abdullah excels at examining the complexity of moving on after this historical event, especially from Arissa's unique perspective as a writer and artist struggling to rear a child with special needs. But this debut novel deals with more than just survival in the aftermath of 9/11, also examining the nature of motherhood by juxtaposing Arissa's supportive mother-in-law and less than maternal mother.