by Tahmima Anam
Around the World: Bangladesh
How obtained: bought paperback online
Rehana Haque was widowed when her children were very young. Now a single woman in east Pakistan, she had to either marry again or find the money. She s bullied by her brother in law, via a court case, to give him and his barren wife the children. She breaks down under the pressure, and agrees. but she vows to get them back and to always protect them. Fast forward a bit over a decade and she is celebrating the 10 year anniversay of when she got her children back. Neighbour’s and friends are present, not realising everything was about to change.
This is a community she fled to on marriage, after her family became poor. It was one that she never felt was really her home. But as the country falls into civil war, and her children fight for independant Bangladesh, she realises that not only will she fight for her children who love their homeland, but that it is hers now too.
Ever decision she makes, she makes for her children, and in the process she becomes an accidental hero to the resistance, finds love, and betrays it for what will always be her greater love- her children.
As you can imagine for a book written about a time of war and upheaval, this book has quite a lot of heavy stuff in it. There is violence, death, torture, betrayal and politics. And through it all is the steady heart beat of an ordinary woman. A mother. Who needs to both let her children go, to grow up, and do what they need to, but also to protect them and keep them safe.
Having read several books from countries around the world that have gone through civil wards or rebellions to gain independance, I find it is starting to get a bit repetitive. It sometimes seems there is nothing new under the sun, as King Solomon said. But that being said, I didn’t mind this book. I think the main character, the mother was done well and it added a different dimension- having a reluctant protagonist, whose main aim was to protection and helping her children, whose role was at home, rather than the angry determined soldier or rebel.