Thursday, December 28, 2017

A Review of 'Exit West' by Mohsin Hamid

"In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet-- sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed.  They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city.  When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors-- doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price.  As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice.  Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through.

Exit West follows these characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are.  Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time."

When I was in a book club, this was one of the books we read together.  We had heard really good things about this book, and so we were really excited to read it an dig in.

What we found was that we were left wanting more... and not in a positive way either.  We thought that since Nadia had such a strong start as a character... she had this fierce independence and was feisty from the beginning and then... I don't know what happened.  We were hoping that she would continue this trend because Nadia was such a great character to start.  But it turns out a lot of the attention was focused on Saeed.  I wonder if it would be better if each character had their own chapters, each written from their perspective.  I think that would have given each character, especially Nadia, more agency as characters.

It was an interesting concept of having people escape from their home countries through a series of magical doors.  I wonder if, from the perspective of someone who has needed to escape their home country, this is a wish that they have.  That they could just arrive at their final destination.  To just start settling and figuring out what their new normal is going to be.  I'd be interesting in hearing others' thoughts on this.

Overall, this was not as engaging of a book as I hoped it would be... I likely won't be rereading this.

I give 'Exit West':
Thanks for Reading!


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