It has been a long time since I’ve read a book that made me sit up, with a jaw dropped, shocked over the ending and I don’t know how to feel about it. Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie, is a jarring, thrilling, unbelievably powerful and mind bending story with an ending that will leave you stunned.
I’ll be honest, in the beginning I thought it was just another one of those books by a Muslim, South Asian author aimed at pleasing the Western audience but man, oh man, was I wrong!
Kartography by her wasn’t a book that I enjoyed, although the story was beautifully written. Kamila Shamsie has this writing style that doesn’t read easy. Full of emotions, metaphors, and sometimes the breaks can be confusing, but her writing is beautiful.
Atmospheric in a way that even when she is describing the environment, it isn’t overdone, just the right amount of ambiance that you feel you’re right there with the characters. I made a mental note in the middle of the book to say that the characters didn’t show any growth, or that they were too quick to fall in love, hate, despise, or deceit without any background, but with Home Fire that works so well.
Without tons of pages dedicated to the back story of each characters, the parts that Kamila Shamsie has included is just enough to keep you hooked to know what happens next!
And I was hooked! I finished this in two sittings where I read more than 70% of the book in one go!
So what is the story you may ask?
I strongly believe that if you’re going to read book, don’t read any reviews with synopsis of the book and go completely blind into the story. You’ll get the best experience out of it. Here is what you should know:
“Grief manifested itself in ways that felt like anything but grief; grief obliterated all feelings but grief”
Home Fire is a story of three siblings: Isma, Aneeka and Parvais, one big sister and two twins, that are left orphaned after their mother and grandmother pass away when they were pretty young. Their father died when they were little as an extremist.
“A man needed fire in his veins to burn through the world, not ice to freeze everything in place.
Then you have the Lone family with Karamat Lone a Muslim British politician who is now the home secretary who got the post by giving opinions against the Muslim Community, and is generally an atheist. He married an American interior designer Terry, and has two kids: Emily and Ayman (Eamon).
“Grief was the deal God struck with the angel of death, who wanted an unpassable river to separate the living from the dead”
Eamon and Isma meet in the US and form a sort of friendship, but Eamon doesn’t know that Isma knows him and his father pretty well. Fast forward, Eamon returns to the UK and forms a relationship with Aneeka, despite her hot and cold nature. Parvais, on the other hand, lands himself in a terrible situation away from UK, on a journey to know his father and his history, and realises it was all a terrible, terrible mistake.
“… if your head is in the shade of love then surely your feet are in paradise.”
In order to get him back, Aneeka tries to use Eamon and his influence on his father to get Parvais back, and that is where things go wrong. What follows is a twin’s devotion to make sure the other twin is safe and back where they belong, while making sure their loyalties to the British Government isn’t questioned.
“‘I wanted to understand why the world is so unfair.’
‘Shouldn’t your God give you those answers?’ he said
‘Our God did, in a roundabout way.’
‘How’s that?’ he said.
‘For starters, He created Marx.’”
This story is explosive! And you will be reeling with shock by the end of it.
The things Kamila Shamsie talks about from UK’s policies on revoking British nationality of citizens who are considered “enemy of the state”, being a Muslim, deceiving your community, and understanding how systemic racism and Islamophobia is deeply rooted into the system of the country, shocked me.
How easily she touched on everything, I really am stunned as to how this book got published!
It truly is the most raw book I have read that touches on extremist Jihadis, the consequences for the families left behind, how privilege blinds people to the struggle of minorities in the same country, and more.
The politics that go behind the scene in devising policies that affect citizens of different origins is reflective of the current political landscape in the UK.
Overall, I cannot recommend this book enough as it is a strong story, with an open ending that literally left me speechless. The characters that are so complicated each in their own way, and the extremist brain washing that lures in naive, misguided and vulnerable kids is eye-opening to read.
You won’t regret this book!
Onto the basics:
- Rating: 4.5/5.0
- Favourite quote: “For girls, becoming women was inevitability; for boys, becoming men was ambition”
- Reader level: Easy to medium hard.
- Should you read: If you’re looking for a story that will stop you dead in your reading tracks, then this is what you’ve been looking for.
- Would I read it again: I don’t think I can, that ending is too much for me to handle.
Till next time,