Author: Shaila Abdullah
Release Date: February 5, 2009
Publisher: Modern History Press
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Multicultural Fiction
Review: Pump Up Your Book Promotion
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
From the back cover:
From the darkest hour of American history emerges a mesmerizing tale of tender love, a life interrupted, and faith recovered. Arissa Illahi, a Muslim artist and writer, discovers in a single moment that no matter how carefully you map your life, it is life itself that chooses your destiny. After her husband's death in the collapse of the World Trade Center, the discovery of his manuscript marks Arissa's reconnection to life. Her unborn son and the unfinished novel fuse in her mind into one life-defining project that becomes, at once, the struggle for her emotional survival and the redemption of her race. Saffron Dreams is a novel about our ever evolving identities and the events and places that shape them. It reminds us that in the midst of tragedy, our dreams can become a lasting legacy.
When I first heard about Saffron Dreams, I was really intrigued. The story of a Pakistani Muslim woman who lost her husband in the World Trade Center attacks seemed compelling and timely. Indeed, after reading the book, I am moved at how beautifully and tenderly Ms. Abdullah handled a controversial subject and made the book about our common humanity, rather than about the differences that divide us.
What really struck me about Saffron Dreams is that the 9/11 attacks aren't the only serious subject addressed in this small novel. Abdullah manages to talk about racism, fundamentalism, widowhood, culture clashes, and the challenges of raising a child with disabilities within its pages. With all those weighty topics, you would think the book would be a heavy read, but surprisingly, it isn't. Instead, it's an honest look at the life of a woman trying to live a normal life while chaos is reigning around her.
Despite the seeming lack of hope in Saffron Dreams' premise, the book is full of wonder. The novel is never depressing; even in the darkest times, Arissa never seems to lose that hope that the future will be a brighter, happier place. That feeling permeates the novel, leaving the reader with a sense of optimism after the last pages are turned.
Abdullah's writing is crisp, sharp and clear. She does not mince words; her writing is very precise, each word chosen carefully. Her words have a way of conveying raw emotion; because they are so stark, the feelings are so much more clear and powerful on the page. It's a wonderful writing style for a novel such as this.
In the end, the message I took away from the novel is that what we, as citizens of this earth, have in common is much greater than all those differences than set us apart from one another. We must look to our common humanity to bring us together. This is a message full of hope and love, much like Saffron Dreams itself.
I thoroughly enjoyed Saffron Dreams and recommend it to anyone interested in multicultural fiction – it's a great read and you won't be disappointed. I am eager to pick up Shaila Abdullah's book of short stories, Beyond the Cayenne Wall.
Thank you to Jaime at Pump Up Your Book Promotion and Ms. Abdullah for sending me this book to review!