It’s been 30 minutes since I’ve finished this raw journey of reading The Shadow of the Crescent Moon by Fatima Bhutto, and I’m overwhelmed to say the least. Before I explain the plot down below, this book is based on one of the controversial and politically sensitive areas in Pakistan known as FATA. The fictional story – that obviously has happened in one form or the other to someone living in that area- is honest and holds nothing back on facts. You can easily find sources online to read up and become enlightened on the history of it, and for that reason what you read below is my opinion on the story and nothing else. Let’s celebrate and discuss only that and the courage Bhutto had for penning this down.
The story begins on the morning of Eid in Mir Ali, around three brothers, their actions, their ambitions and how the war has shaped them to into the men they have become. Aman Erum, Sikander, and Hayat are the epitome of the opportunist, the coward and the rebel, respectively. We also have Samarra the green eyed beauty – beau of Aman Erum and later Hayat- who is the courageous, fearless lioness getting blindsided by other powerful Alphas. Both Samarra and Hayat are part of silent rebellion that still strikes every now and then in Mir Ali, often devised by them.
The entire plot goes back and forth between past recollections of these brothers and how the Mir Ali cause made them decide what to do. Aman Erum took the easy way out by going to USA, Hayat stayed behind and worked for the cause, and Sikander chose not to be part of violence and save lives through medicine. However, an attack is planned by the rebels and all four of them are in play centre stage. The narrative starts slow but picks up pace in the end making it impossible to leave the book down.
Fatima Bhutto leaves no stone unturned in bringing out the various perspectives of how the nation views Mir Ali and vica versa. How the 2007 rebellion – that was supposed to bring “Freedom” for the residents- only brought more horrors. Similarly, the rise of terrorism allowed for no dream to be lived or even borne. It feels as if Bhutto is a Mir Ali native and voices her own anguish in between when infact she was raised in Karachi.
The ending left me screaming why why why!!! As I hate open ended plots for my mind wishes for a happy ending every time but as the world, in the words of John Green “is not a wish granting factory” somewhere in alternative universes where this story actually took place, that would not be the case. However, in the end we all see how all three brothers clashed with “want” and “need” and Samarra, just another pawn in the game.
So let’s get down to the basics.
- Rating: 4.0/5.0
- Favorite quote: “There was one distinguishing feature between the militants and the men they fought: they were true believers… They saw themselves as holy warriors, they defended a book they had never learned to read in a language they could not speak”
- Reader level: Easy- has few words of Pashto as well. Meanings can easily be inferred.
- Should you read: Yes.
- Would I read it again: Not sure.
Till next time,