First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.
Lahore, Pakistan. Then.
Misbah is a dreamer and storyteller, newly married to Toufiq in an arranged match. After their young life is shaken by tragedy, they come to the United States and open the Clouds’ Ret Inn Motel, hoping for a new start.
Juniper, California. Now.
Salahuddin and Noor are more than best friends; they are family. Growing up as outcasts in the small desert town of Juniper, California, they understand each other the way no one else does. Until the Fight, which destroys their bond with the swift fury of a star exploding.
Now Sal scrambles to run the family motel as his mother Misbah’s health fails and his father loses himself to alcoholism. Noor, meanwhile, walks a harrowing tightrope: working at her wrathful uncle’s liquor store while hiding the fact that she’s applying to college so she can escape him – and Juniper – forever.
When Sal’s attempts to save the motel spiral out of control, he and Noor must ask themselves what friendship is worth – and what it takes to defeat the monsters in their pasts and the ones in their midst.
From one of today’s most cherished and bestselling young adult authors comes a breathtaking novel of young love, old regrets, and forgiveness – one that’s both tragic and poignant in its tender ferocity.
And, another work week has culminated. I hope that you are ending it on a high note. Weekends, here we come! For those who had a less than stellar week, I hope you get your mojos back in the coming two days. I hope you use it to rest, relax, reflect, and rejuvenate your manna. With everything that has been happening, I can definitely understand where the exasperation is coming from. I hope you are also having a great year. But if the previous two months have been challenging, I hope that the rest of the year will be great, or at least kind to everyone. I hope that you are all doing well, in body, mind, and spirit. I can’t wait for this pandemic to end soon; thankfully, the COVID19 situation here in the Philippines has become manageable. I hope the same holds true for the rest of the world.
With the closing of the work week comes a new First Impression Friday update. For March, I have switched my focus to reading books written by female authors; I used the first two months of the year to catch up on books published in 2021. The pivot to female writers is to align with March being Women’s History Month. I intend it to be a celebration of their legacy, not just in literature but in every facet of life. This journey commenced with Nobel Laureate in Literature Olga Tokarczuk’s The Books of Jacob, which also served as my transition from my 2021 reading catch-up. I have just finished my second Maryse Condé novel, Segu, a book that astounded me with its scope. From a familiar writer, I am now delving into the work of a name new to me, Sabaa Tahir, with her latest novel, All My Rage.
It was earlier this year that I first encountered All My Rage while searching for books to include in my 2022 Books I Look Forward To List. The book piqued my interest, hence, its inclusion in the said list. Apart from the first book from the said list, All My Rage is my first “new” book for this year. I am hitting two, no, three birds with one stone! Despite the fact that I just started reading the novel this evening, I was able to note some of the book’s basic premises. First off, there are two settings and timelines. One was set in Lahore, Pakistan. The period, however, was not mentioned; it was simply referred to as “Then”. The second timeline is set in present-day, “Now”, Juniper, California.
With the two timelines, two storylines were laid out by Tahir. The story set in Lahore follows the story of Misbah, a young Pakistani woman who found herself arranged for marriage to a man she barely knew, Toufiq. In the present, we again meet Misbah, now as a mother. The present, however, focused more on Misbah and Toufiq’s son, Salahuddin, or “Sal”, and his best friend, at least former, Noor. What I didn’t expect was that the novel was a work of young adult fiction, something that I admittedly am averse to. Nonetheless, I try to read my fair share of YA fiction. Its young adult qualities were already palpable, from the character’s angst to the writing which featured quite a lot of metaphors, similes, and comparisons. “The clouds over Lahore were purple as a gossip’s tongue,” was the book’s opening line. Accent, on the other hand, was described as the “gentle sell of an ocean.”
Young adult fiction qualities aside, there seems to be a bevy of heavy and seminal subjects that the book explored. The first one is the prejudice that Misbah’s family received in the United States. “This isn’t who he is. This isn’t who we are. We weren’t always like this,” Sal ruminated after policemen passed judgment on his father. Other subjects highlighted include alcoholism and the role of education, especially for women, in the betterment of one’s station in life. The hope for a better future lies in the admission to a prominent university and the gaining of a practical degree. Despite this wealth of details not 50-pages into the story, there are still a lot of events, I surmise, that will unravel as the story moves forward. One key item that needs to be addressed is the “Fight” that caused a rift between Sal and Noor. Reconciliation seems to be on the horizon.
As expected of a work of YA fiction, the book is easy to read despite the two timelines. While the present makes up the bulk of the story, I am more interested in the story of Misbah and Toufiq in Pakistan. What had happened in their homeland that had caused them to migrate to a foreign country? There is a lot that needs to be unraveled and I hope that Tahir will provide great and insightful contexts to the story. The proverbial “American Dream”, I surmise is going to be the heart of the narrative. Perhaps. I hope it won’t disappoint. How about you fellow reader? What book are you digging into the weekend? I hope you are enjoying it. For now, happy reading, and have a happy weekend!