Book Review: 31 Hours

31 Hours
By Masha Hamilton

Thank you, to Caitlin at Unbridled books for the ARC copy.

I have been wanted to read this author for quite awhile. I have all of her books and have not been able to get to her books. I have been putting it off.

My brother is a photojournalist for the Army Times where he has been on assignment at the start of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, as well as the start of Iraqian resistance. He has been back in Iraq a few times to cover assignments. I have worried about my brother on several occassions. When I heard of Masha Hamilton before her most recent book. I thought her books would give me a feel of what the middle east was like. What my brother had experienced as well. But I just could not open the book until now.

I am letting you know there are spoilers.

The book was not what I expected. I can't say I enjoyed reading it. Because it is not that kind of book. But it kept my interest.

31 Hours is about a mother's intuition. At the middle of the night, Carol wakes up in a panic. Where is Jonas?? I have not heard from him in quite awhile.

Carol contacts Vic, Jonas's girlfriend to see if she may have heard from him and she has not either. Jonas's father Jake is divorced from Carol for years.

Carol contacts Jake and asks him to go to his apartment to see if Jonas is there. Jake thinks she is over reacting as a mother. Jonas and his mother have been very close until now. She notices he is very distant and detached.

Carol tells Jake, If he is there, she worried for nothing. She promises not to bother him again. Jake agrees to go to his apartment.

Jake goes to the apartment and does not find Jonas but finds out that Jonas has lied about a few things. One thing he went to Pakistan without anyone's knowledge. The other he was telling his mother that he enrolled at NYU, but in actuallity he never did. Then Carol realized that there is something suspicious.

" He has been strange, distant, Oh I know it's normal for a young man to pull away from their mothers. But this feels bigger than that. I mean I can't reach him."

Carol questions herself as a mother. She thinks maybe she raised him too liberal. He is always questioning and arguing and debating.

Vic, also has been worried about him she can not get a hold of him either. She realizes something is wrong. During the 31 hours his family and friends are trying to find him. But, he does not want to be found.

Jonas has become involved with Islam and has been training in Pakistan without his mother's knowledge.

When he comes back to the U.S. he is in a hideout in Brooklyn. The inedible is about to happen. Mossoud is the leader of the Islam movement. He wants Jonas to become a marytr. He wonders can this American be trusted. Jonas prepares for his assignment and gets ready by the rituals he performs.

There is the New York Subway, as a character in the book. With the musicians, dancers, and New Yorkers coming and going on the subway and watching the entertainers in the subway system.

In the meantime there is a panhandler, named Sonny. He basically lives in the subway he calls "his church". He feels something is wrong but he can not pinpoint what is the matter.

"A sudden breath of silence seems to fall over the subway. It is a hush more than snowfall but not as peaceful. More like the overpowering silence of those moments of staring at a doctor right before he tells you the bad news. You already quessed.

Sonny warns them something is wrong. He feels better that at least he has done something and not nothing.

In the meantime Carol is with the police officers in her home. She excuses herself and goes to the bathroom for some meditation. She is praying as only a mother does. She wants her son to come home safe. She rocks back and forth with a towel in her arms, crying please bring him home, safe.

In the meantime Jonas puts on his vest. In his apartment he looks for the nails. The nails are a significence. He walks to the subway in all the clothing. He is thinking about his father he never wrote. Through this whole thing he wants everyone to understand why he did this. Not for extremism but for the world's injustices.

My reactions:I personally had a hard time reading this. Number one as a mother of a grown child and the other as terrorism and suicide bombers has become noticed after 9/11. It was chilling and heart wrenching. How could you as a American do this and how could you do this to your parents and friends. What drove him to become involved in this violent act?

As a mother of a nineteen year old I can connect to Carol. There is a time to let go. But how much do we let go? and let them live their own life? When do you get involved and interfere if he or she is a adult when you know something is wrong? This is a hard question.

You hope as a mother you raised your adult child right with the right morals and values. Carol worried she raised her son too liberal, too insulated. As parents did we allow them to trust their own judgements. Are they right or wrong?

We as parents are always questioning, the guilt, the sleepless nights. Because at this age you wonder.

Right now, my son is still home but he has given me some sleepless nights. Sometimes there are things that come out of his mouth that I wonder and hope this is just nonsense and he is just trying to get a reaction out of me.

In a few months I will be having to let go and hope for the best. He will be spreading his wings. Because he will be with the Navy where he can not turn to me for answers he will have to make his own decisions and hopefully he makes the right ones.

The author, Masha Hamilton was a photojournalist in the middle east. She did her research well. She sounds like she has to have grown children or at least knows someone who has.

I related when she talked about the subway. There were parts of the book that was very poetic. How she described the New York subway system and the feel of the city with the music and entertainers. I used to live in NYC for a few years and traveled on the subway. There is a rythm of the city I can not describe. It is the feeling you have when you have lived there.


Diane said…
I've seen this one around and really would like to read it. Great review.
bermudaonion said…
I could really relate to Carol - she knew something was wrong, yet didn't want to be seen as overprotective. We moms walk a fine line as our kids age.

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