Monday, March 4, 2013

An Infidel in Paradise by S.J. Laidlaw

I received this book as part of the LybraryThing Early Review and here is my review
 What's the book about?

Emma is a sixteen year old girl who happens to be in a diplomatic family with her mom making part of the diplomatic body of the Canadian embassy. After her parents have separated, her mother gets transferred to Islamabad, Pakistan.  Here Emma will have to "re start" her life and will meet other diplomat kids at the international school, as well as some local kids. 

          Set in Pakistan, this is the story of a teen girl living with her mother and siblings in a diplomatic compound. As if getting used to another new country and set of customs and friends isn't enough, she must cope with an increasingly tense political situation that becomes dangerous with alarming speed. Her life and those of her sister and brother depend on her resourcefulness and the unexpected help of an enigmatic Muslim classmate

I added the summary from Goodreads since it was that description that made me want to read the book.

What was different of this book?

I have to say not a lot. I was expecting a very different book. Instead I got a very self centered teen that claims to be all over the world and yet is super demeaning when talking about the culture of the place she is at. I was expecting off course the cultural shock, and I assumed that we would learn from both points of view. This was not the case either. 

What about the main character?

Emma is hurt, I get that. She is mad at her parents, at having to change schools...but from day one she is presented as this spoiled child, a bit racist and quite bland as a character. There is no much going on with her, except that she falls for a local boy who is engaged already. Instead of trying to learn about the culture, make friends and maybe get over her parents separation she coins nicknames for every girl around her. She is in Pakistan and is surprised she cannot go out alone...again, I was expecting her to talk about this, to disagree, to debate maybe. No, all she was is annoyed like it never occurred to her that this would happen in this country.

The 10% moment

Although the book was well written and hence it was easy to read and follow the story there was not a lot of it that intrigued me. I finished, like going with the motions, but not at the 10%, nor at the end did I have a moment of "Oh wow, I really want to know what happens next"

Final thoughts

I was very disappointed at the end of this book, and here is why:

          1. The increasingly tense political situation...was there as a faint background of her boy trouble. For most of the book, Emma acts like the biggest problem around her is the fact that she can't get a "decent cappuccino".

          2. Her life and those of her sister and brother depend on her, she was not resourcefulness, their lives do not depend on her, and the only reason she feels this way is because she acted out, like a teenager. Is a big deal, sure, but the statement is over exaggerated.

          3. An enigmatic Muslim classmate...Mustapha is not enigmatic at all. She doesn't understand him, maybe. But if instead of complaining about how his girlfriend doesn't like her, she would've taken the time to get to know the culture surrounding her she would've been able to understand all the tradition behind it.

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