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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Review : 31 Hours by Masha Hamilton

Title : 31 Hours
Author :
Masha Hamilton
Publisher :
Unbridled Books
Genre : Fiction - Terrorism
ISBN : 978-1932961836
Rating : 3/5 - Good

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.

Review :

When I first read the synopsis of this book, I was immediately interested, and just knew that I had to know what was going to happen in this novel. Within reading the first few pages I was already intrigued, and had a hard time putting the book down. I was also confused, to think that a person as young as Jonas could let such thoughts flow through his brain. I was, and am still angry with the character of Jonas for thinking that one act of violence can change the way of the world, and the people in it.

In my honest opinion, violence will never change anything, except the amount of people that still stand after the final boom. War and fighting will only cause pain and destruction, and those that think otherwise baffle me. I wanted to wring Jonas's neck with his constant philosophy on life. How much does he think he is supposed to know at the age of 21? He is nothing more than a child just coming into his adulthood, and your not supposed to know everything at this point in your life.

Here is a quote from 31 Hours that I think we should all take a second to think about :

"We're all terrorists," he'd told her a few weeks ago in what had been their last real conversation. "Every single one of us. The only difference is, some of us recognize it and others don't."

I honestly don't understand how Jonas can say this. I personally am not a terrorist, and I think that people who think this way need to seek immediate attention. Hurting others will not make the world a better place, it will just cause more danger for the children of our future.

I didn't really like Jonas's mother either. Her name was Carol, and her life depended on whether Jonas or some other person was paying close attention to her. I understand that she is a mother, and that she loves her son, but to go crazy with worry because of not hearing from him for a little over a week, is a little over the top. In the case with this novel, she was right to worry, but other than that she seemed like a very selfish character. She needed the comfort of her son in order to be happy. There was one quote from the book that really had me thinking though, and although I am not a mother, this is exactly how I feel a love between a mother and child should be.

This is the way mother-love works. There's no controlling it, and there's nothing like it, not the way a cleri loves his God or a soldier loves his country or a man his wife. This baby emerges, and that's it--you're sucked into a maelstrom so profound you never get out, and so you worry, you overreact sometimes, all you want is to protect you baby. Even if he's shaving now.

The one character that I liked the most was young Mara. She's only a child, yet all she wants in the world is for her mother to be happy. She's not selfish, and doesn't put her emotions out there for the world to see. She's the tough one, the mortar, the one holding it all together. For a child, she knew too much, things only an adult should have to go through, and for this I respected her as a character.

I can say that I liked this novel, but didn't love it. I will more than certainly be reading more by Masha Hamilton in the future, because this novel really touched me at an emotional level. There was a lot packed intot his novel, at 229 pages. I'd like to thank Caitlin Hamilton Summie from Unbridled Books for allowing me to read and review this book, it's been a pleasure.


Anonymous said...

Honestly, when I read the synopsis, it was a turn-off. This is just not a book I like reading about. Then I read your review and changed my mind. Your thoughts have me intrigued.

Great job!

Jenni @ Falling Off The Shelf said...

J.Kaye - Thanks! I thought I did a pretty good job with this review, and now I feel even better about it! I've been trying to make my reviews a little more in depth, without giving away too many spoilers...guess I did ok!

Glad I intrigued you, it was just intriguing read :)