In the Language of Miracles * * a first novel by Rajial Hassib portrays an Egyptian American family and the tragedy that threatens to tear their lives apart.
Samir and Nagla Al-Menshawy appear to have attained the American dream. The leafy New Jersey suburb of Summerset is a long way from their cramped apartment while Samir was a medical resident, and certainly a world away from their native Egypt. With a thriving medical practice and three children, the Al-Menshawys feel confident of their place in the community - until a devastating turn of events that leaves their eldest son Hosaam and a dear friend and neighbor's daughter Natalie Bradstreet dead, turning the Al-Menshawys into outcasts in their own town.
The novel opens during the five days leading up to the memorial service that the Bradstreets have organized to mark the one-year anniversary, with the Al-Menshawys expressively excluded. The surviving Al-Menshawy must come to term with his/her role in the tragedy; the desperation to reconcile with the community; and a way to move forward.
"Writing with unflinchingly honest prose, Rajia Hassib...paints tender portraits of a family's struggle to move on in the wake of heartbreak, to stay true to its traditions, and above all else, to find acceptance and reconciliation."
"Steeped in Arabic culture and the Muslim faith, as well as sharply observant of immigrants' intricate relationships to their adopted homelands, this exciting novel announces the arrival of a psychologically and socially astute new writer."
Reader who enjoyed Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng; and Before and After by Rosellen Brown might want to give this a try. A sound choice for book groups interested in issue-driven discussions.
* * = 2 starred reviews