Jordania: From East to West

Yet another country with a very limited amount of options, but luckily I was able to get ahold of a good book: Willow Trees Don’t Weep by Fadia Faqir. I didn’t quite know what to expect. The short synopsis did not really prepare me for the full journey, and I have to say I still think about what happened in the book after the protagonist, Najwa, arrived in England.

Living in conservative Jordania became impossible for Najwa. Her father left the family when she was a young girl, and after her mother’s death society made Najwa’s decision “easy”. An unmarried woman can’t live a life as a single woman, so she left on a journey to find her father. Najwa left the country she had always known, but where she had always felt as partly an outsider. As a lonely woman going abroad, not knowing what she would find, where her father was, and what he was doing.

In this book you won’t be able to avoid controversial subjects like politics, religion, East-West-relations, family issues, male-female-relations, well, it pretty much has them all. Najwa heads for Pakistan, and finds family there, but her father is long gone. She leaves for a strange journey to England. There is something sketchy about it all, but it will take Najwa to see her father.

Amman, Peshawar, Kunduz, Kabul, London, Bedale, and Durham, quite the journey. “When the day I had waited for since I was three arrived, I didn’t know what to do with myself. My father must be a strict Muslim and wouldn’t approve of uncovered hair, make-up, a low-cut top or tight jeans. But my mother’s ghost skulking in the room would be offended if I changed my secular appearance and hid my arms.”

A life filled with contradictions. It’s one of the most typical subjects for books in general, it seems. I liked this book more than most I’ve read lately in the same genre. Although I am not entirely sure how many young women, not matter how secular, would or could travel from Jordania to several different places like Najwa did. It somehow didn’t feel quite right. Then again, it’s fiction, so there are quite a few liberties to be taken.

Otherwise the flow in the book was great. It was easy to read, even though the subject is heavy. Sometimes I was wondering if certain events could really happen, but I just went with it, because in the end this is just a story, not based on real life. It’s hard to explain my thoughts about a book both so dark and yet so light. It’s definitely worth a read, and in many ways it’s an easier read than the true stories out there regarding the same subject, but the book has many layers, and it is for sure not just fun and games.

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