Sunday, August 16, 2015

G625 Book Review of When the Moon is Low by Nadia Hashimi

Name of Book: When the Moon is Low

Author: Nadia Hashimi

ISBN: 978-0-06-239919-9

Publisher: William Morrow

Type of book: Afghanistan 1960s-2000s, Taliban, take over, underworld, survival, refugee laws for Turkey, Greece and France, migration, escape, hiding, prostitution, coming of age, violence

Year it was published: 2015


Mahmoud's passion for his wife Fereiba, a schoolteacher, is greater than any love she's ever known. But their happy, middle-class world—a life of education, work, and comfort—implodes when their country is engulfed in war, and the Taliban rises to power.

Mahmoud, a civil engineer, becomes a target of the new fundamentalist regime and is murdered. Forced to flee Kabul with her three children, Fereiba has one hope to survive: she must find a way to cross Europe and reach her sister's family in England. With forged papers and help from kind strangers they meet along the way, Fereiba make a dangerous crossing into Iran under cover of darkness. Exhausted and brokenhearted but undefeated, Fereiba manages to smuggle them as far as Greece. But in a busy market square, their fate takes a frightening turn when her teenage son, Saleem, becomes separated from the rest of the family.

Faced with an impossible choice, Fereiba pushes on with her daughter and baby, while Saleem falls into the shadowy underground network of undocumented Afghans who haunt the streets of Europe's capitals. Across the continent Fereiba and Saleem struggle to reunite, and ultimately find a place where they can begin to reconstruct their lives.


The main characters include Fereiba, a modern woman who has had misfortune of lacking a mother but eventually fate blesses her with education and a mother-in-law that encourages her to go back to school and become a school teacher. Mahmood is Fereiba's husband and is a modern thinking man, and in this instance, the arranged marriage served them right and is an engineer. Even though Mahmood detests the rules, he still follows them. Saleem is their son and when he gets a chance to narrate the story, I could see that this is coming-of-age for him through darkness and underworld that no one can imagine facing and going through. Saleem is friendly, resourceful, loyal and very tenacious, refusing to give up in any circumstances. He is also a bit lucky because of the people he meets along the way help him through many difficulties.


I just realized something through The Pearl that broke its shell and When the Moon is Low; those who suffered the most are women and children, even young boys also suffered when Taliban took over Afghanistan.


The story is written in first person narrative, from Fereiba's and third person narrative from Saleem's points of views. Fereiba instantly grew on me and I was excited about reading her story and seeing the world of Afghanistan through her eyes, a world that was equivalent of modernized society. She was a powerful narrator and I kept reading the story, wanting to know what happens afterwards to her. I have to admit that I wasn't taken in by Saleem as much as by Fereiba but as Saleem grows up and the reader sees how much of a burden is placed upon his young shoulders (to be responsible for his mother and two younger siblings as well as dealing with loss of his father and adolescence,) I became heartbroken by the tragedies that happened to him and started to admire his tenacity in trying to do the right thing by his family.

Author Information:
(From TLC)

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About Nadia HashimiNadia Hashimi

Nadia Hashimi’s parents left Afghanistan in the 1970s, before the Soviet invasion. She was raised in the United States, and in 2002 she visited Afghanistan for the first time with her parents. Hashimi is a pediatrician and lives with her family in suburban Washington, D.C.
Find out more about Nadia at her website, connect with her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.


When I saw that When the Moon is Low by Nadia Hashimi is coming out this year, I was giddy. I previously read and reviewed The Pearl That Broke Its Shell and found it to be a beautiful book and story, as well as the importance of stories that we all take for granted. What I was curious about is the unmentioned history of The Pearl that Broke Its Shell. How did Afghanistan become what it did in 21st century? How has that happened? When The Moon Is Low answers that question, that prior to wars and Taliban control, Afghanistan was just like any other country, and I have to admit it was difficult for me to imagine Afghanistan as something like Turkey or some Western city in When the Moon is Low. I also liked that men from Afghanistan such as Saleem and his father Mahmood are more of modern thinking men instead of someone like in The Pearl That Broke Its Shell. I also wondered why the book is titled this way, and figured out that it has something to do with family's adventures, the underside of the world that we don't hear or pay attention to. For western society I imagine that the story will be equivalent to a slap in the face because of the mindset that everything is peachy keen and fine and its 21st century, thus these things shouldn't even exist.

This is for TLC

Nadia’s Tour Stops

Wednesday, July 22nd: Time 2 Read
Wednesday, July 29th: Raven Haired Girl
Thursday, July 30th: Books on the Table
Monday, August 3rd: Novel Escapes
Tuesday, August 4th: 5 Minutes For Books
Friday, August 7th: BookNAround
Monday, August 10th: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews
Tuesday, August 11th: Literary Lindsey
Friday, August 14th: Many Hats
5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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