An American-born son of Iranian immigrants becomes radicalized.
Rez Courdee is the son of well-to-do Iranian immigrants. His father is strict, his mother retiring. Rez performs well at his private Southern California high school. At first, Rez is a “typical” American teenager, blissfully numbing himself with surfing and drugs to the complexities of his life and world. But after the Boston Marathon and another massacre closer to home, Rez can’t ignore the fact that he is treated with suspicion and prejudice by the same white community with which he has spent his entire life. Khadivi’s (The Walking, 2013, etc.) latest novel is the story of a young man’s gradual radicalization. A filmmaker as well as a writer, Khadivi is a massive talent, lyrical, evocative, and unsparing. Her latest work completes a loose trilogy of novels that traces a line of genealogy down from Rez’s grandfather to his father to himself. But Rez’s story stands on its own. His radicalization takes place gradually, the result of a countless number of small intertwining factors rather than one overwhelming reason. That makes Rez’s journey believable, his psychological transition vivid and real. You’ll sympathize with Rez even as you find yourself devastated by his ultimate choices. Khadivi’s feat is a crucial one, especially at this moment in time, when young Muslim men are dehumanized by white Americans far more often than they are understood to be complicated, and individual, human beings. The book has only two small flaws. The first is that, though there is brief mention early on that Rez has a sister, she is never seen or heard from again. The second flaw, if it is a flaw, is one that afflicts all books, everywhere, and that is that the story, finally, must come to an end. You won't want the book to end. You will want to follow Rez. You will want to hear what happens next.
A brilliant novel about a young man’s reckoning with a flawed and violent world.