This book breaks my heart. What child hasn’t felt shaken upon discovering that their faith in something that they had perceived as true and perfect is perceived by many as ridiculous and foolish? Hayat, at twelve, has that purity. He is sincerely trying to achieve faithfulness to Allah and to memorize the Qur’an on his own without formal training. At the same time, he is a very human boy, noticing his sexual awakening without being able to label it. The poor innocent is trapped in a hypocritical world with no trustworthy allies in his sight.
American Dervish is a coming-of-age novel that would make a good book-club choice because it easily triggers individuals to contemplate their personal journeys of spiritual faith as well as the cultural and societal pressures of growing up in America. Regardless of one’s religious or ethnic background, many grow up doing as they are told, imitating what is modeled for them. Eventually, if free enough to do so, listening to their hearts and figuring out what choices to make upon entering adulthood. Hayat is not alone in feeling alien among his parents and other authority figures.
I loved this book and believe that it would appeal to many types of readers.
Check the WRL catalog for American Dervish.