Sisters Rose and Gameela could not have been more different. Rose, an Egyptologist, immigrated to New York City, where she works in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Gameela, a devout Muslim, stayed in Cairo. During the aftermath of Egypt's revolution, Gameela is killed in a suicide bombing. When Rose returns to Egypt after the bombing, she sifts through Gameela's things, desperate to understand who she truly was. Soon, Rose realizes that Gameela has left many questions unanswered. Rich in depth and feeling, a brilliant portrait of two Muslim women in the twenty-first century.
"In the wake of her sister's death, Rose, an Egyptologist at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, begins searching for answers. Gameela, who stayed in Cairo after Rose immigrated to the U.S., was killed in a suicide bomb blast. But the chain of events that led to that day can be traced back to an interview that Gameela set up for Rose's husband, a journalist, with a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer. From her parents' home, Rose spirits away some items that belonged to Gameela to try to understand her better, using her own archaeologist's eye to attempt to find secrets from the very recent past. Gameela had become estranged from her secular family as a teenager after she began living as a devout Muslim, and Rose soon learns that she had been keeping secrets for some time. As Rose struggles to understand Gameela and come to grips with her husband's role in the events that led to her death, a multifaceted look at the complicated legacies of identity, religion, and politics in Egypt after the Arab Spring emerges. Even the story of the suicide bomber is given careful consideration in this enlightening, heartrending novel.--Bridget Thoreson Copyright 2019 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Hassib's impressive second novel (after In the Language of Miracles) is a fascinating depiction of sisters Rose and Gameela, their shared heritage, and the country that ultimately divides them. Six years after Rose relocates from her native Egypt to New York, she receives news that 28-year-old Gameela has been killed. Though her parents think Gameela's death is accidental, Rose believes there must be a connection between it and Saaber, the young suicide bomber Rose's husband Mark had written about in an article for the New York Times. Back in New York after the funeral, Rose tries to focus on her postdoctoral fellowship at the Met, yet she is immersed in Egypt's art and culture as she works on an exhibit featuring ancient Egyptian relics. Rose investigates Gameela's life, trying to piece together the chain of events leading up to her death. In grief, she reflects on how the sisters felt a chasm develop between them, starting with Gameela's desire to wear a headscarf, which surprised her liberal family. Also, Gameela initially doesn't approve of Mark, though he converts to Islam to marry Rose. Gameela becomes involved in politics after the beginning of the Arab Spring, while all Rose can do is watch from afar. Finally, Rose discovers secrets her sister kept until her death. Hassib seamlessly transports the reader from one culture to another, eloquently showcasing the triumphs, heartaches, and beliefs shared by the protagonists. Agent: Lynn Nesbit, Janklow & Nesbit Associates. (Aug.)"
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