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How to Read the Air

by Dinaw Mengestu

How to Read the Air
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2010, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2011, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Judy Krueger

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Power Reviewer Elizabeth (11/07/10)

Different
It started out as not too interesting of a lead in, but it does get better as you share the characters' lives and see why they ended up the way they did and how the lives of immigrants is not always a pleasant one.

There were a lot of powerful, thought-provoking messages throughout the book....it definitely isn't just a "surface" read.

My rating is a 4/5 for interest and a 5/5 for the author's writing style....he is excellent at character development, scene description, and of course storytelling.

The book began describing a scene of the narrator's parents leaving on a vacation and then moves into his life and the life of his girlfriend who work as a social worker and an attorney in an immigration center. It continues with incidents about their life in and out of the immigration center.

The book goes back and forth describing the narrator's parents and then his life and the problems all of them had with the main focuses being: relationship problems, lack of communication, family, love, and finding out who you really are. The book also followed Jonas through his childhood and talked about how his life was in that house with his parents who really wanted nothing to do with each other....not a pleasant childhood. It also traced the path of his father from Ethopia to the United States.

It was sad hearing what kind of life Jonas' mother had and how they didn't really keep in touch after he was an adult. Also very sad was the description of his relationship with his father and how it completely affected his life. Taken from page 101 concerning his relationship with his father...."and, I realized then that all I had to do to avoid him was blend into the background. That knowledge followed me from there so that eventually I thought of my obscurity as being essential to my survival."
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