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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday Book Review: American Dervish

Often I put my lists aside and simply let myself be drawn to a book on the shelf at the library. Maybe it was the title, American Dervish, that attracted me. Maybe it was the promising blurb on the back cover that declared I would find myself represented within the pages "weather you believe religion is a precious gift from God or the greatest scourge of mankind." 

This is one of those books where I was almost immediately caught up in the story and had trouble putting it down. I'm often guilty of putting myself to sleep at night while reading. With this book, I found myself being forced to put it away and close my eyes because mornings always come early and I did not want my days to suffer from too much late night reading.

American Dervish is a debut novel by Ayad Akhtar. It is told from the point of view of Hayat, a young (early teens) American-born Muslim boy. I've said it before, but I always appreciate a book that tells a good story and teaches you something new at the same time. Not only were there bits and pieces about Muslim faith, but I liked the different perspectives of the religion from within. Various extremes were represented, from the blind followers to those who questioned and even denied the faith. It was very satisfying and familiar at the same time. The story very much confirmed what I've always felt has to be true. We're not so different, any of us, no matter what our religious background.

Part of what may have made this story so relatable for me is the fact that Hayat is a young teen in roughly the same era as myself. So though he is a Muslim boy with a father who is a doctor, growing up in a part of the United States that is very different from where I grew up, there are a lot of things he talks about that I knew well. Television shows and his father's take on reading books, most specifically. (My father was a book reader, but things his father says reminded me a lot of my Grandfather in many ways.)

I really enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to anybody.

A surprise bonus, I discovered on Kansas Plains People on Friday that Mr. Akhtar will be speaking in Kansas City on Tuesday. Unfortunately, my schedule is not flexible enough to travel that day, but it's neat to see that he will be in the area and speaking about his book.

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