Thursday, September 29, 2011

Far Cry From the Turquoise Room, by Kate Rigby

Hassan is a Persian man living in England with his family.  Life is splendid; he does well at business and his family is perfect.  But suddenly, life changes, when his oldest daughter dies in a tragic accident.  At first, Leila, the younger daughter, does her best to fit in with the new family dynamic, trying to draw her parents out and make them happy.  It becomes clear that her parents will not return to their previous way of life, however, when they threaten to send Leila to boarding school.  This, coupled with the revelation that there will be a new baby in the family, prompts Leila to run away, and develop a new identity living with travelers throughout England.

The first few chapters of this book were like the soft introductory strains to a beautiful piece of music.  They helped to identify the tone, mood, and voice of the entire piece.  This music that the book creates is unlike anything I have ever experienced.  The simultaneous stories of Hassan and Leila make for an incredibly original book.

I really loved watching Leila's character develop.  We walk with her over the course of several years, and watch her come of age in the most difficult of circumstances.  She feels abandoned, by her sister, her parents, and later by the people who promised to protect her.  I also really enjoyed seeing Hassan's character begin to awake, albeit a little late, to the important place Leila has in their family.

This story is so moving, and I think it really lends a voice to people and situations not normally represented in modern literature.  While the book is very British in feeling and vocabulary, this is a story to which anyone can relate.  Many countries have immigrant populations, and many immigrants are misunderstood, as Hassam feels Persians are.  Many wish to fit it and fully assimilate, as Leila does when she wishes she were white.  And who among us cannot relate to the pain of tragedy and death.  

I am honestly struggling to find the right words to convey how breathtaking this book is.  So, instead of taking my very inarticulate word for it, just simply read for yourself.

I received  a review copy of the book courtesy of the author.

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