Saturday, June 6, 2009

Review: The Wish Maker by Ali Sethi

book 7 of 10 for the Orbis Terrarum Challenge
genre: fiction
rating: 3.5/5

Docile Zaki and beautiful Samar. Cousins in Pakistan, living together in the home of Zaki's grandmother and mother. Zaki lives in this woman's world, growing up as a modern Pakistan emerges. The political situation is active yet tenuous and Zaki's mother's involvement is seen through the eyes of the young and provide a unique perspective of Pakistan during the era of Pakistan's first and only female prime minister, Benazir Bhutto.

The politics and religious life of Pakistanis are a constant backdrop throughout this multi generational story. The life of our protagonist Zaki is mingled with the stories of his mother, grandmother, great-auntie and father. While I liked the different view of Pakistan that these tangents presented, I sometimes felt that the transitions between the present and the past and back again were sudden and choppy. They also made the plot move forward slowly for me, which isn't always a bad thing but sometimes I got bogged down. It took me a long time to finish because it took me so long to get engaged enough to want to pick it up. I will say, however, that these views added depth to my knowledge of not just the members of his family (and why they made the choices they did), but also of Pakistani history, capturing the experiences of many different types of people.

Despite the slowness of the pace, this book is beautifully written. Sethi has a strong sense of aesthetics and lyricism. Small expressions would so perfectly capture an emotion or an action. Instead of saying, for example, that two women sat down to catch up, Sethi says, "They sat in the garden...pouring from vats of recently acquired experience." I love that image! He was also surprisingly good at knowing how teenage girls would respond or act in certain situations - I believed his character's behavior, even when I didn't like it. I felt like the relationship between the cousins could have been more fleshed out, but I still liked the idea of their closeness.

The Wish Maker is a coming of age story. A story of wishes and lost dreams and of a boy and his a country on the brink of finding themselves.


morninglight mama said...

I didn't actually read your review-- I just got this book in the mail this week! I'll come back and see what you thought of it after I read it! :)

bermudaonion said...

I'm looking forward to reading this book!

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