Laced with Western pluralism and liberalism, the author tries to push back the rigid moralism of Islam as he has often known...

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LETTERS TO A YOUNG MUSLIM

An appeal to critical thought and broad values for young Muslims.

Ghobash, ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Russia, presents a series of open letters crafted for his young sons as they grow up Muslim in the modern world. The author has a unique background: his mother is Russian, and his father was Arab. Moreover, his father was assassinated when a supporter of the Palestinian cause mistook him for another man who was a political target. The author was a young boy at the time of his father’s death, and he has spent a lifetime reflecting on what senseless violence did to him and his family. He has written these letters to his own sons—born in 2000 and 2004—in order to provide them with written accounts of his own values and thoughts on Islam. Throughout, he asks them to consider varying points of view, do their own research, and make up their own minds. Ghobash seems most intent on convincing his sons to think for themselves rather than to allow clerics, scholars, and activists to influence their thinking. The author states unequivocally “Islam is a religion of peace,” and then spends an entire chapter discussing what that statement really means, given the reality of violence in the world. He urges his sons to “see the world through the prism of responsibility,” as he himself does, doing what is right and caring for the needs of others. “We need to take responsibility for the Islam of peace,” he concludes. Ghobash takes largely liberal views on many issues, such as the role of women in society. He seems interestingly reticent on proclaiming strong views about the leadership and direction of Islam or passing anything but the most general judgment upon extremists.

Laced with Western pluralism and liberalism, the author tries to push back the rigid moralism of Islam as he has often known it. Certainly heartfelt, the book is also reserved and largely unemotional.

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-11984-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Picador

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

THREE WOMEN

Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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