Alex is a young Muslim boy who has disappeared from his American home only to end up overseas supporting a fanatical sect. When his grandfather finds out, he begins emailing, opening up about when he was a youth and had a similar experience as a youth being attracted to fundamentalism. His story takes place on the 10 Commandments set where his dreams of Hollywood clash with the local desires to not be exploited by white man.
I loved the portrayal of idealistic youth. Alex is the perfect picture of youth. He is passionate and fanatical and completely discounts the idea that anyone in his family could understand what he is thinking or feeling. That his grandfather had a whole life and dealt with a lot of the same issues in his youth is unthinkable to him. Only he is worldly, only he understands what God wants from him. Ah, the naivety of youth.
I loved both the glamour and grittiness of being on DeMille’s 10 Commandments set. Ali was both naive and ambitious and Alex was living quite the parallel life years later. This is not an “own” voices narrative so it’s important to listen to the author’s notes about fiction. I think while it does depict religious extremism, it does a good job at balancing the heavy hand with the realities of how people are drawn in. The ending was really powerful.
Thanks to Dreamscape Media for gifted access to this audiobook via Netgalley. All opinions above are my own.
When it comes to sand do you prefer the beach or the desert?