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I didn't mean to listen to this from start to finish with only a tiny nap in between, honest I didn't. It was just too damned engaging, the characters were so well-fleshed out, and the writing! They weren't just words on a page, they were a darned hymn! If I could write like this I'd be sitting at my laptop day and night, enthralled, thankful.
Instead, I'm listening to "When the Moon Is Low," by Nadia Hashimi, enthralled, thankful.
From the beginning, Fereiba is a strong, immensely likable character, kept at home, who will do anything for an education. Then she is swirled through the waters of the conventions of arranged marriage only to get off on an answered prayer.
But nothing is ever easy in Afghanistan. An arranged marriage might not be the worst thing in the world.
As Fereiba says, she lives through, "many regime changes in Afghanistan." Starting with the death of her mother. And it goes from there. There's her stepmother, but there's the Soviet Union as she gets her teaching certificate too. And the Taliban.
Everything goes from loving exposition to utterly breathless from there, but characterization never fails and plot never falters. And once again, at the danger of being hopelessly repetitive, the writing is exemplary.
Sneha Mathan and Neil Shah turn in wonderful performances. I kinda had reservations about Neil Shah, having heard him in a previous audiobook where he turned in a capable but less than stellar performance, and here was a book than demanded fantastic. I was really, really pleased. The hand-off from Fereiba to Saleem is credible, pulse-pounding, and humane.
Spend the money, spend the credit, spend the time on this truly awesome story. It's worth the sleep you'll lose!
45 of 49 people found this review helpful
I read Hashimi''s debut novel, "The Pearl that Broke its Shell"; that book had an interesting concept but desperately needed an editor.
I worried about a similar fate for this book, but enjoyed "Pearl" enough that I gave it a go.
This book described Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation, then the Taliban, and one family's desperate escape to freedom. I loved the descriptions of characters - those who helped and those who hindered - and especially the family that is the focus.
Sneha Mathan is, as always, good as a narrator. I think a little bit of production might have cut out some of the awkward pauses in her performance. Neil Shah had a strong emotive performance, but during dialogue, he would pitch his voice low, which was unnecessary to my ears.
This story gives the face to the current refugee crisis facing the world. I personally enjoyed the first bit of the book, and found the ending was abrupt. This book could have used another chapter or two to round it out further, but those are minor drawbacks to a wonderful book and performance.
33 of 36 people found this review helpful