BookBrowse Reviews When the Moon Is Low by Nadia Hashimi

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When the Moon Is Low

A Novel

by Nadia Hashimi

When the Moon Is Low by Nadia Hashimi X
When the Moon Is Low by Nadia Hashimi
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2015, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2016, 384 pages

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The impact of the Afghanistan war and the rise of the Taliban is told through the lens of one middle-class family who decide to leave for the safety of a foreign land.

When the Moon is Low, a story about an Afghani family fleeing persecution after the Taliban takeover, resonated soundly with many First Impression reviewers with more than half giving it a full five stars. Love, death, birth, chaos in a rocket-ravaged Kabul, and the fortunes of a family emigrating from the turmoil of Afghanistan are the themes of this book. It is also a coming-of-age story as a young man separated from his family tries desperately to rejoin them, the obstacles he encounters are many (Florence K).

Readers were engrossed by one family's struggle for survival

When the Moon is Low is one of those books where you lose track of time and become totally engrossed in a family's journey from the terrors of the Taliban in Afghanistan to eventual reunion with family in England. But the journey is difficult as they are either cared for or persecuted by those they meet along the way. The read is a roller coaster of emotions as Nadia Hashimi teases us with their safety and then their near tragedies throughout the escape from their homeland (Laurie F). The story alternates between the viewpoints of Fereiba, a young Afghan widow, and her teenage son Saleem. Along with daughter Samira and baby Aziz, they make the perilous journey from Kabul into Iran, then to Turkey and on to Athens, where Saleem is arrested. The story then follows the separate journeys, perils, friendships and heartbreak of Fereiba and Saleem. Hashimi's writing is spare and poetic, and the story, moving and suspenseful (Rebecca H).

The story brought to life issues of refugees and immigration

This book also shows us a side of what the Afghan people have had to deal with that is not always portrayed. It certainly made me look at immigration in a different way (Laura E). With refugees and migrants struggling to escape misery and death, this book captures the reality of what that means in a way that gets under your skin and into your heart (Sandy F). With the world's eyes upon the situation of the refugees from many countries, this novel reveals the souls of our brothers and sisters searching for a life of hope free from oppression (Mary Anne R).

A few thought the story could have used more depth

While this story reveals some of the horrors refugees experience, I'm inclined to think it doesn't go nearly deep enough (Ginny B). My biggest criticism was the ending, which left me worrying about the fates of the family and some of those we met along the way (Beth W). I couldn't help feel that this lovely book was missing something. Something that took me deeper into the characters and their struggle (Sharon P). The story itself is compelling as well as timely, particularly as the world is in the midst of a crisis involving Syrian refugees. But the family's experiences were fairly tame compared to the horrors that real-life refugees live through every day (Sally H).

Yet most came away with new knowledge and hope

Depressing yet hopeful in the face of great odds is how I would describe this wonderful book (Loren B). [Afghan] women are allowed no freedom, yet Fereiba took it upon herself to make sure her family could enjoy a safe life in the future. A love story — and as the author wrote "love grows wildest in gardens of hardship." Everyone should be reading this book (Patricia S). The unbelievable love, courage and tenacity of being a refugee as well as the smell of fear is all in this book. Yet it is somehow hopeful. I learned a great deal about so much and enjoyed this book immensely. Somehow every nation must find a way to welcome and support refugees — they are leaving a hell we can't imagine (Sandy F).

This review was originally published in October 2015, and has been updated for the April 2016 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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