Jo March, named for her mother's favorite character in the classic, Little Women, has grown up in an Evangelical Christian family, with two loving parents and her twin brother Chris by her side. With the help of her high school biology class, Jo discovers that her father is not her biological father and instead, a Muslim man who knows nothing about her is the one who helped bring her into life. Obviously the waters are instantly muddied, not simply because her mother lied to her most of her life, but because a Christian girl is faced with having a Muslim father...something Jo is totally unfamiliar with.
The book told in parts by Jo, her biological father Sadiq, Jo's mother Angela, and Deena, Sadiq's mother and Jo's biological grandmother, spans years, faiths, and beliefs. Jo, through work with the U.S. government, becomes part of the war on terror, bringing her even closer to the part of her family she's grown up without, while the other main characters each deal with their own faith journeys and process of realizing what family really means.
I really enjoyed the underlying message of familial sacrifice and redemption and the interwoven stories, as the reader gets a look into the differing perspectives of each character, rather than just Jo. The portions that took place in Pakistan were fascinating and I think Deena ended up being my favorite character for how realistic her part of the story was. And I loved the aspects of bridging cultures and religions, despite what history may have said.
I did feel that I lacked a connection with Sadiq as a character, though he did have his own chapters and that the overall book was a bit long. A lot of stories were blended into the book and some of them took much longer to get through than others. I did really appreciate Haji's writing style and did enjoy the book as a whole, despite some minor issues.
A fast read, great for the beach!
The Sweetness of Tears