Sunday

EKRA BEST BOOKS 2011: ECHOES

Review by Dreamer


At the age of 28, the typical American has established his career and perhaps started his marital life, with his past well behind him. For Joshua, the main character in Echoes, however,this is the age that he walks out on a failing marriage and three innocent children. Jamila Kolocotronis, in her novel which takes place in Chicago, tells a compelling story of a young man embarking on a journey to rectify his wrongful past.

The novel begins with a rather interesting note scribbled by Joshua as a thirteen-year-old. With the choppy writing skill of an adolescent, he conveys his decision to commit suicide. Immediately, the reader is drawn to the fact that Joshua’s story is not a soft one. As his mother Evelyn narrates, her third child was a wild one and instead of taking his own life, he drew misery into others’.

The subject of the story is what appealed to me the most. Muslim fiction is rare and
yet, there is such a high need for such stories to be told. In a time where Muslims are being misunderstood so prevalently, Kolocotronis shows the real side of Islam. In addition to touching stereotypes of Muslims beautifully, she gives a glimpse into Muslim marriage, spouse relations,and the general way Muslims live daily.

Echoes is filled with interesting, well-developed characters. I couldn’t help but
sympathize with Evelyn, the struggling mother, and dream along with Joshua who had high hopes for returning to his children. As a Muslim myself, I could only smile in awe at how Joshua’s wild personality grew tender as he found and embraced Islam. My personal favorite character was Umar, the defensive older brother of Ayesha, but also the one who I find to have a soft and kind heart. Heather, Ayesha, Umar, and Brad are all characters I feel I have met somewhere and some point in my life.

I have lived in Chicago for a while now, and as I progressed through the novel, I could relate to the established Muslim community on Devon Avenue and the Chicago Cubs among many other things that Kolocotronis describes.

The point of view shifts between Evelyn and Joshua throughout the point, which adds
a new dimension to the story. It would be interesting if the reader also got a taste of Heather’s story, or even Ayesha’s. Further, a closer look into Joshua’s conversion to Islam would have been nice to read.

Overall, the writing style was simple and direct. At times, I would have liked to see more dialogue rather than continuous descriptions. Evelyn’s narration in the beginning somewhat overwhelmed me with incessant complaining about her life, but reading further allowed me to understand what a true gem she is.

In an ideal world, divorces wouldn’t happen and families would live happily. But reality speaks of problems and struggles. If you want a short, easy read that tells an inspiring and unique story, Echoes is just the book to grab.

Dreamer
Blog: http://muslim-dreamer.blogspot.com/

2 comments:

Azra Momin said...

Intriguing! Thank you for the review, Dreamer.

Peace Be With You! said...

Great review! Thank you for your insight, I've been meaning to pick up this book for a few months now.