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Thursday, September 27, 2007

In the Name of God by Paula Jolin

Posted by Irish in Uncategorized0 Comments

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Source: Purchased
Publication Date: 03 April 2007
Series or Standalone: Standalone
ISBN: 159643211X
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 208
Paula Jolin – Twitter
Place(s) Traveled to: Damascus, Syria
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

First Line: “I love the world after dark,” said my cousin Samira as we crossed the main street and entered a narrow, barely-there alleyway.

I read In the Name of God by Paula Jolin while I was on vacation. I was intrigued with the premise of a young Muslim girl and with the setting of Syria. There are many books that take place in the Middle East but there are few that chose Syria as home. So I was interested to learn more of this country. I was quickly to be disappointed in that wish.
This book may take place in Syria but references to the country are few and the descriptions seem to generic to the region. At no time did I get a sense of Syria as a country. Which, as I’ve said, disappointed me since that is part of why I bought this book. The main character of the story is a 17 year old girl named Nadia. She is a devout Muslim struggling to survive and deal with the various family issues that are going on around her.
I found Nadia to be young, naive and flighty. This made it hard to connect with her and care about her story. She starts off the novel determined to go to medical school and to help her Westernized cousins to find the true path of a Muslim Woman and get them to take up the veil. Nadia is also dealing with a crush on the older brother of those cousins, who just happens to have very radical ideas. It isn’t long before this cousin is arrested for his beliefs/actions and the impressionable Nadia soon takes up his cause with a zeal that is in no way believable.
Her move from devout to fanatic is too quick and seemingly without reason. Other then the fact that her beloved cousin was a fanatic and if she takes up his cause then he might love her…that is of course if she ever sees him again. At first it seems like her new found fanaticism will be short lived but amazingly enough she manages to get in contact with the same group that he cousin belonged. Nadia then jumps in with two feet – mostly in her head – and has to meet many many times with a group member in order to convince him of her desire to be a part of the cause.
Then just as fast as she joins the cause the book is over. Nadia changes personality and beliefs so much throughout the novel that I never could quite believe that she was real. She changed with the wind and there was often no rhyme nor reason to her changes in attitude. This book also relies too much on stereotyping how Islamic nations look at the western world and at America. It also doesn’t go much into the faiths and beliefs of Islam and all the familial interactions seem stale and a little forced.