by Ayse Kulin
Page Count: 373
Release Date: June 14, 2016
Format: Trade Paperback
How got: ARC from publisher
First attention getter: forbidden love storyline
Sabahat, a beautiful young Muslim woman, is known in her family for her intelligence, drive, and stubbornness. She believes there is more in store for her life than a good marriage and convinces her parents to let her pursue her education, rare for young Turkish women in the 1920s. But no one—least of all Sabahat herself—expects that in the course of her studies she will fall for a handsome Armenian student named Aram.
After precious moments alone together, their love begins to blossom. Try as she might to simplify her life and move on, Sabahat has no choice but to follow her heart’s desire. But Aram is Christian, and neither family approves.
With only hope to guide their way, they defy age-old traditions, cross into dangerous territory, and risk everything to find their way back to each other. One of Turkey’s most beloved authors brings us an evocative story of two star-crossed lovers inspired by her own family’s history.
Star Rating - none
I found myself extremely disappointed in this book, enough that I had to DNF @ page 101. It got to the point that I dreaded picking up the book; I even dreaded just the mere thought of the book. A part was I was just bored with it, but I had such high expectations that when they crashed and burned, I was bummed.
The story of a forbidden love between an Armenian boy and Muslim girl in a 1920s Turkey going through so much societal change and revolution is storytelling gold. The fact that it came from the author’s personal family history is just butter on top. Being so close to the past Armenian genocide (in which our male lead lost family) and in a Muslim county trying to find a balance between Western culture and Eastern values, this story carried tons of potential.
The author at least shined in the setting department. We get an intimate look at the family dynamics of a Muslim family in flux, going through drastic changes in their society and values system. The lush world of Islamic Turkey with a mixture of Christianity made for interesting reading.
Unfortunately, the author didn’t take full advantage of the book’s potential, giving us a muddle of too many characters and a choppy writing style.
The slew of characters is the main thing that got me. I could have understood the full range of family members for Sabahat and Aram; after all, they all have a bearing on how these two develop as individuals and how their relationship would grow or not.
However, when you get to a whole new family only remotely connected with Sabahat by a historical family origin place, I lost myself. I’m sure that given time or further story-telling, it would have become clear how everyone was connected. But I’m already lost in all the names so I couldn’t personally hold out to that point.
The way the story was divided up also threw me. Sabahat’s and Aram’s story was told in a chunk in the beginning. Then we cut away to the different family with all new people, family dynamics, and history. Maybe if things had been interwoven from the beginning, this sudden cut would have been easier to swallow. I don’t know. That sudden break is why I lost interest so quickly; since I was starting to get invested into our lovebird’s story, coming to completely different characters was hard.
To me, this book was full of misguided hope and broken expectations. It started out strong with a great setting and world-building. The story of forbidden love between our leads started to engage me. Yet, the author made a sharp veer into a new story and family with no warning. This lost my interest quick and made me dread trying to dive back in. So I didn’t. This book may work for another individual, but not me, it’s not enjoyable at all the way it’s written.
Note: Book received for free from a GR giveaway in exchange for an honest review.