An important story delicately told
Title: When The Moon Is Low
Author: Nadia Hashimi
First published: 2015
Edition: Paperback, published by William Morrow in 2015
In Kabul, we meet Fereiba, a schoolteacher who puts her troubled childhood behind her when she finds love in an arranged marriage. But Fereiba’s comfortable life implodes when the Taliban rises to power and her family becomes a target of the new fundamentalist regime. Forced to flee with her three children, Fereiba has one hope for survival: to seek refuge with her sister’s family in London.
This is a story of family and of desperation and yet it always gave me a sense of hope rather than despair. I am impressed with this novel for exactly that reason.
The author weaves a story of a young family at the time the Taliban took power in Afghanistan. She tells their story as their country changes and they escape their home country to travel through Europe as refugees with England as their destination, since they have family there.
The story is told through Fereiba, the mother, and later through Saleem, the eldest son. Hers is written in first person, his in third person. I liked that dynamic in the storytelling.
This is not the most gritty refugee novel I have read, but in a way therein lays its power. It makes you realise that the family you are reading about in a way are the lucky ones. They have something to hold on to, a family to travel towards. Not everyone is so fortunate. The grittier stories are in the people they encounter, who are less lucky, who have had even tougher journeys. Their stories are not told explicitly, but definitely implied, especially through Saleem. The ending felt a little abrupt, but in many way it was the right ending.
I think I will seek out the author’s previous book, because I thought this was a very well written book that told an important story in a delicate way.
6 out of 7 stars