Friday Book Review
This one is a doozy.
31 Hours by Masha Hamilton will leave you simultaneously heartbroken and terrified. It is a very realistic portrayal of a young man who has turned to terrorism to assuage his feelings of helplessness about the state of the country. He is a twenty-something liberal, white, American man, raised Jewish, by artist parents. And without turning him into a fanatic, or a lunatic, or even unlikable, Hamilton manages to pull off the fact that he's about to launch a suicide bomb on New York. That's where this short novel is so harrowing, because he's so familiar, and yet willing to perform an act that's unspeakably monstrous to so many. It is very rare that you find a protagonist that is this sympathetic and horrific at the same time.
In addition, the craft of the novel is quite compelling. It is told over the course of 31 hours. Each short chapter is marked by the time, and told from various points of view. From the main character, to his family who is trying to locate him with increasing desperation, to his potential victims. By the end of this book my heart was pounding and I was literally shaking. I did not want to come to the end. And the end will haunt me.
For this day and age, this is an incredibly poignant book. I'm glad that a woman in my book group suggested it as I doubt that I would have chose it myself. But it's powerful, and I'm glad that I read it.