One Hundred and One Nights by Benjamin Buchholz
"After 13 years in America, Abu Saheeh has returned to his native Iraq, a nation transformed by the American military presence. Alone in a new city, he has exactly what he wants: freedom from his past. Then he meets Layla, a whimsical fourteen-year-old girl who enchants him with her love of American pop culture. Enchanted by Layla's stories and her company, Abu Saheeh settles into the city's rhythm and begins rebuilding his life. But two sudden developments--his alliance with a powerful merchant and his employment of a hot-headed young assistant--reawaken painful memories, and not even Layla may be able to save Abu Saheeh from careening out of control and endangering all around them.
A breathtaking tale of friendship, love, and betrayal, One Hundred and One Nights is an unforgettable novel about the struggle for salvation and the power of family." -from Goodreads.com
What I Thought:
One Hundred and One Nights starts off slow, but the pace really does pick up quite quickly. Abu Saheeh returns to a small town in Iraq after over a decade of living in America. There are obvious parts of his American life that he just can not leave behind, even though he tries his best to become a simple mobile phone salesman in Safwan, Iraq. Everything from his American life suddenly comes back though when he meets a girl, Layla.
Layla is a street rat, but she has taken an interest in our mobile phone salesman and visits him nightly. She talks of American things; songs of aliens, dancing like Brittany Spears, and other ideas that would be considered vulgar in her culture. Abu Saheeh takes a very dear liking to this girl and she not only becomes important to him emotionally, but mentally as well.
Through out the book Abu Saheeh's life as an American is shown through flashbacks at the ends of the chapters. It is very interesting to see how his present day life is related to these flashbacks. About halfway through the book you start to understand a bit more about what exactly is going on plot wise. Some of the twists and turns in the plot were very unexpected, but very welcome!
I loved this book even though I thought it was going to be slow moving. Once the pace picked up I just couldn't stop reading it. The characters were so well developed I actually was having dreams with them!
Buchholz did a great job showing us war in Iraq from a different perspective than what we see on the news. He really tapped into the viewpoints of the Iraqi people and showed a side to their life that is never really discussed.
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