I’m going to start this review with a note: This is a book about terrorism related to Pakistan and Afghanistan but written by a Caucasian person. The main protagonist is a woman who is half white with a Pakistani father she does not know. She’s not raised with that identity and the crux of the plot is that she knows she does not fit in as “white” and is desperately trying to identify with her father’s culture. This leads her to friends and a boyfriend who are from her father’s culture and, here’s where my note comes in, gets her involved in the situation the plot is about. Arrested by the UK government and questioned about being involved with terrorism and then much later in Pakistan, kidnapped and embroiled in the war. All against her will. There is a lot of very aggressive stereotyping here. It is used as a plot device and it makes for a very interesting read. There are sections where non-radicalized people are portrayed but not enough to balance the underlying narrative. The story is a cautionary tale about a girl trying to find and understand her roots and those roots bring her to the very worst of the worst. I think this is problematic at times, however, I get that this is a thriller intended to bring you a unique story in a new way. If you’re the type to shy away from these situations where authors are putting themselves in other’s shoes and making sweeping assumptions about a culture, then skip this one. But if you can read a story for a story and want to see how a simple girl can bumble her way into multiple hornets’ nests full of ignorance and curiosity then you will likely enjoy this one.
The writing is immersive and at all times I felt Laila’s fear and confusion and need to belong and be understood. You see the absolute horror of people’s attitudes and behaviors and the beauty and kindness of others. You see the black and whiteness of this age old conflict and yet how not everyone living in the conflict engages fully with it. You will not see Laila’s betrayer coming but it is quite the twist. There is a lot of violence, physical and sexual to both Laila and other women and children throughout the story so be prepared for that. It was definitely a book that got me thinking and one I couldn’t put down because I had to know what happened to Laila. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Thanks to Love Books Tours for the gifted copy. All opinions are my own. This one is on Kindle Unlimited so if it sounds up your alley then go grab it!