Beautifully written and richly evocative…
In the shadow of danger and oppression, a young couple struggle to stay together in Abu-rish’s engrossing tale. After his love affair with the stunning Dania takes a nasty turn, handsome and smart Fareed Shaheen gets himself transferred from the AUB to finish his engineering degree at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul. When his path crosses with the lovely Nad, he finds himself falling in love once again. But Nad’s father, General Ali Hikmet, is an intimidating man who has no intention to let his daughter marry a man of mixed origin. Will the lovers find a way to unite? This is an engrossing drama, starting with Fareed’s navigation of his love life and his studies, continuing through his struggle as he tries to find a balance between his longing for Dania and his mother’s disapproval, his relocation to Istanbul, Nad’s entry, and the couple’s emotional maelstrom. The characters are wonderfully relatable, and watching them navigate the difficulties of their troubled lives is enthralling. Nad has a vibrating presence. She’s not perfect: she’s gentle and sensitive, and yet a full-throated, flesh-and-blood woman who redefines independence and her own self while embracing her Muslim heritage. Fareed, with his sensitivity and passion, comes alive on the pages. Abu-rish deftly peels away the layers of Fareed’s life, revealing how hard it has been for him to be in Nad’s company and worry about getting his heart broken once again. Opinionated and fiercely determined, Fiona, though doesn’t get much space in the story, makes her presence known anyways. Fareed and Nad’s relationship unfold slowly, and the short notes they exchange in the beginning are pivotal to their connection. Abu-rish’s worldbuilding is authentic: he precisely captures the rhythms, manners, and sensibilities of Turkish culture, bringing it to life. Plotwise, the core story is pretty straightforward: the novel tracks Fareed and Nad’s love story. But the character’s interpersonal dynamic is a critical part of this novel, giving depth and a much-needed sense of surprise to the story. The third-person omniscient voice adds tension to the poignant narrative that touches on race and class disparity and how the patriarchy shapes women’s lives in certain cultures. At the same time, Abu-rish writes about the intricacies of love and relationships, friendship, individual angst, courage, determination, free will, resilience, personal dreams, sacrifice, and faith. Beautifully written and carefully crafted, this poignant meditation on love and desire makes for a winner.
Nad of Nadide