Monday, March 30, 2015
So I wrote this on the plane a couple weeks ago and just edited it. It's by no means a complete analysis of the book, just things that jumped out at me. Enjoy....
I finished the book a few weeks ago - so it’s not as ripe in my head as it could have been, but as I think about it, it is beginning to come back to me. It was an interesting story and it was a great juxtaposition of the characters and issues in the book.
It was an interesting story that also brought about a lot of issues that are current in today’s world. PTSD, immigration and assimilation, over use of force by police departments and the classic ignorance is bliss solution to so many problems we have here at home. I’m not sure how I felt about the book to be perfectly honest.
The author did a wonderful job at portraying the balance between the two worlds in which Bashkim lived in. His resentment and need to want to fit in at school and the greater world he was a part of, while at the same time was torn between the way he lived at home with his parents and the stark differences between these two worlds. It was heart wrenching to read his story, your already so frustrated for him and then his mother is killed and that by a cop that shouldn’t have en been on the force in the first place - an event that was entirely preventable. I really appreciated how his relationship with Luis evolved and changed, I can only imagine how horrible the first letter he received from Luis made him feel.
Bashkim as the author portrayed just seems to have a beautiful heart that is wiling to give everyone a second chance regardless of what happened to him in his short life. Regardless, of the heartache in the book, I feel it couldn’t have ended in a better way - except for the fact that again like most cops across the country, they walk away without any consequences regarding their use of deadly force (sorry, I can’t help but be frustrated with the current system and current social conversation).
In the beginning I felt almost sorry for Avis, her life was falling apart around her and it seemed as she had no control over it, but as the story went on - the smoke signals were there all around her. She refused to do something about it and continued with her suburban life she worked so hard to maintain and be a party of, her fear of going back to life on the streets won out to her fear of the fact that her son could actually do something to harm someone. It was frustrating to see her continue to witness Nate beat and abuse his wife and her turn the other cheek. She tried to do something, but at the same time her own internal monologue confirmed her worst fears/suspicious. When Avis found out that Nate had shot Bashkim’s mother, she had the desire and the impulse to set things right, but as her husband or ex- husband said we’ll get him out of this. We have the means and the connections to make sure he isn’t head acceptable, but what happens afterwards. He continues on the force and his PTSD continues. It was interesting how the author juxtaposed two veterans in the story, one that was being haunted by the loss of his partner Sam and the innocent killing of a little boy and the other someone who was more careless, bold and angry as the days progressed. They were both angry and broken, but one was able to channel his anger in a more productive and less threatening way. I obviously have no sympathy for Nate and his family.
Roberta reminded me of a guardian angel to those that she works with. She believe in humanity and tried to help everyone that crosses her path. The fact that she thought outside of the box to find a solution for Bashkim, his sister and his father was pretty amazing.
I could go on, but in a way this book is ripe for book club discussion - which I’m sure some of you saw the book club questions at the end of the book, but I really want to know what the rest of you thought. Especially since some of the book is relevant to today’s social dialogue - and the fear that there are veterans that are coming back from war with issues and PTSD and doing into careers and jobs that they probably shouldn’t be doing. Sad consequence of war abroad is the militarization of our police force with all the equipment that is decommissioned or no longer needed. And our anti immigration mindset, which I believe creates situations where newly immigrated families don’t know that they can ask for help or even where to ask for help and become isolated as Bashkim’s family had.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments on the book.