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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Blog Tour : 31 Hours by Masha Hamilton

Description from Unbridled Books :

A woman in New York awakens knowing, as deeply as a mother’s blood can know, that her grown son is in danger. She has not heard from him in weeks. His name is Jonas. His girlfriend, Vic, doesn’t know what she has done wrong, but Jonas won’t answer his cell phone. We soon learn that Jonas is isolated in a safe-house apartment in New York City, pondering his conversion to Islam and his experiences training in Pakistan, preparing for the violent action he has been instructed to take in 31 hours. Jonas’s absence from the lives of those who love him causes a cascade of events, and as the novel moves through the streets and subways of New York we come to know intimately the lives of its characters. We also learn to feel deeply the connections and disconnections that occur between young people and their parents not only in this country but in the Middle East as well.

Carried by Hamilton’s highly-lauded prose, this story about the helplessness of those who cannot contact a beloved young man who is on a devastatingly confused path is compelling on the most human level. In our world, when a family loses track of an idealistic son an entire city could be in danger. From the author of The Distance Between Us.


A wolf ’s howl. But more shrill, more prolonged. Carol sat fully upright, an inhale caught in her chest, before she realized there was, of course, no rabid wolf dodging Manhattan traffic. It was only winter’s wind slicing past her eleventh-floor apartment window with enough ferocity to rouse her. Then she grasped, in quick succession, that she’d been half-awake before the noise began, that her stomach hurt, and that her mind was filled with Jonas. Herson. Her wild-haired precious. When he was tiny, on a frenzied night like this, he would have snuggled with her in this very bed, bare toes pressing against her leg. Now he extended over six feet, and though he hugged, he didn’t snuggle. God, where had those days gone?

More important: Where was he now?

She lay back down, reached to pull a pillow close, and smoothed her forehead with a hand as if wiping dust from a table. She wondered if she could will herself back to sleep but doubted it. Her most successful years of slumber stretched from Jonas’s birth through his toddlerhood, when the basics felt simple and pure and her arms had been full of husband and baby, potter’s clay and homemade bread. Through the remaining, darker days of marriage, divorce, and the occasional lover, erratic sleep became the status quo. Still, whenever she awakened in the wee hours, she wanted nothing more than to breathe in time with another human body—a desire that pointed to a primitive quality in her, she thought, one not suited to this modern life.At age forty-eight, she still wasn’t used to sleeping alone.

When Jake was already gone and Jonas still a boy, she would sometimes crawl into her young son’s bed, rest a hand on his tummy, and match her breath to his. Often, if her presence woke him—she hadn’t thought of this in years—he would lull himself back to sleep by twirling her hair with his fingers, as if they were joined. He was so small then that air passed through his body at a pace more urgent than soothing. But the rise and fall of his stomach connected her to nothing less than the universe itself. Jonas saved her from facing her own mortalityduring those long nights. Next to him, imagining herself a kite finally cut free of its string, she slept. That perfect boy with his drowsy warm scent and hair falling on the pillow like a piece of art. Why hadn’t he returned her calls?

About the Author
masha hamilton (photo for blog tour)

For ten years, Masha Hamilton worked as a foreign correspondent overseas, first for the Associated Press in the Middle East and then as a Moscow correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. Masha covered the intifada the peace process, and the partial Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon. Later, she reported on the coup and collapse of the Soviet Union and the growing independence in Soviet Republics as well as Kremlin politics. She reported from Afghanistan in the spring of 2004. She currently lives with her family in New York City, where she teaches for Gotham Writers’ Workshop. She is also the author of another novel, Staircase of a Thousand Steps. Author photo by Briana Orr.


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

This one sounds like a book that I would really enjoy; thanks for mentioning it!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for including the book's trailer. Love looking at those!

Jenni @ Falling Off The Shelf said...

No problem! I try to hunt them down...but books don't always have them :( I think it makes for a great part of a review / or blog post.