Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Good Son, by Michael Gruber

A couple months ago I was asked to do a review on the novel, "The Good Son" written by Michael Gruber. It's taken me a ridiculous amount of time to finish this book, but I have finally done just that. Moving and a trip to visit family got in the middle of that, but the biggest reason is because this book required some heavy thinking. I'd get through a page or two, then have to stop and consider it, or I'd be interrupted and end up rereading what I had just read. Not an easy book to read when you have two kids running around. I did, however, enjoy it quite a bit.

It's the story of an abdution in Pakistan of a group of peace conference attendees. One of them is Sonia Bailey Laghari, an American married to a Pakistani, with a gift for languages and the training of a psychologist in the Jungian philosophy. She's also a rather famous writer who traveled through many of the Islamic world's holiest sites dressed as a boy, writing a book about it that inscensed many Muslims, including her own family.

After it appears no one is going to go to their rescue, Sonia's son, Theo, is a special forces soldier who hatches his own scheme to have her rescued. The plot thickens further, and the ending was not one I expected at all.

I should make note that this is a novel that while not being particularly graphic, is heavy on violence. We are talking about terrorists, after all. However, what drew me in was how deeply the author got into the the current conflict we find ourselves in. After reading so much about the language, culture, and tribal loyalties, I walked away feeling as if I udnerstood something about this war that had completley eluded me before. What a complicated mess it truly is! And yet, Mr. Gruber manages to put a veyr human face on these people who kill and rampage. AS Sonia interprets the dreams of her captors, they become much more three dimensional.

While I realize this book is only fiction and should be viewed as such, I think it was an easier way to gain some understanding of those on the other side without plumbing through a myriad of non-fiction books. Although, I can guarenteee I wil be looking for a few good non-fiction books dealing with Islam and the Muslim world after reading "The Good Son".

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