Review: American Dervish by Ayad Akhtar

18 Nov

“It’s because you’re different. You can’t live life by rules others give you. In that way, you and I are the same. You have to find your own rules. All my life I’ve been running away from their rules, Hayat. All my life. You will be the same.”

American Dervish by Ayad Akhtar

Summary: College student Hayat Shah is finally going on a date with the girl of his dreams when he gets the worst news: his aunt Mina has passed away. He is distraught and can’t concentrate on his date, and she wants to know why. He starts telling her about how he met his Aunt Mina at when he was just learning what it meant to go from being a boy to man, what it meant to be Muslim and American. What unraveled ended up destroying more than one life, but gave a young man something valuable: perspective.

Review: Talk about a book you can relate to! Well if you are a Muslim, Desi and American 😉 But even if you are not, the themes and characters of this book will appeal to everyone.

Being an 11 year old boy is hard enough. But add to that the confusion of being the child of an immigrant, it becomes nearly impossible to live your life without scars. The author weaves a beautiful story about growing up in the U.S. where the messages you receive are confusing. Many times we see Hayat confused by the complex adult behaviors and his own cloudy feelings. We can feel his ignorance about the world as if it were our own. What we are, who we are, all of it comes into question no matter the character.

Although the POV of is from Hayat, since he was an observant and quiet child, we could see other people’s thoughts and viewpoints also. Each character was crafted with care, and no one was without faults or merits. His cheating drunk father hated the hypocrisy of his fellow immigrants, his nagging mom was open-hearted, and his intellectual and smart aunt was fighting a system she was too weak to be in. It is about each person’s identity and how it fits in the world they live in. Putting the square peg in the round slot.

No idea or thought was without its strengths and weaknesses. We see both the positives and negatives of Islam, America, Culture values, and family. What it means to be a women and a lover of women is complicated further. What is communication? What is family?

While I enjoyed Akhtar’s storytelling, There were times where he jumped from idea to idea. He will be telling us a story, and then we will jump to an unrelated, profound though. I think things fell through the cracks because the flow would be broken. Also, I felt he could have pushed more out of his characters. I think he could have highlighted more of Mina’s convictions, his parents’ strengths, and Nate’s anger.

Still, my problems were negligible compared to the overall story. If you can accept your viewpoints challenged, American Dervish is a compelling read. Be prepared to read about how to learn oneself regardless of the messages everyone tries to throw at you.

Sex: Nothing vulgar, but bold and not for children.
Violence: Domestic Violence we see and don’t see.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Posted by on November 18, 2012 in Uncategorized




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