Official title: Tightrope
Author: Sahar Abdulaziz
Book length: 350 pages
Publisher: Djarabi Kitabs Publishing
Year of publication: 2017
Style/Summary: Set in present day America, Tightrope is a thrilling suspense-filled tale of the triumph of good over evil. The author introduces the story with a brief prologue which I almost skipped but it turned out to be very vital in understanding the story. The story’s protagonist, activist and social justice advocate, Nour Ibrahim, while dealing with emails and cryptic messages from an anonymous online racist bully, is secretly struggling with an ugly illness which eventually turns out to be her saving grace. Other characters in the book represent different aspects of the current American socio-political situation. However, they are relatable in so many ways and their feelings, fears, and aspirations can be felt through the author’s brilliant use of language and her general portrayal of these individuals.
Some of the themes explored in this novel include racism, xenophobia, love, family,religion, mental illness and so on. The characters, through their everyday lives, show the importance of unity and solidarity in the face of oppression and prejudice. One of my favourite things about the author’s style is how she dedicates chapters to each character. This gives the reader the chance to understand each character’s point of view without, for lack of a better word, getting interrupted by another character’s voice. Another great thing about the chapters is the length with each chapter being about 3 – 5 pages long. This is perfect for readers who have a short attention span and who are only interested in taking in small amounts of information at a time.
Of all the characters, Maryam’s story is a personal favourite and I’m certain that her life would be relatable to many people, men and women alike, who come into Islam from cultures or countries where Muslims are a minority. Maryam faces rejection from her family and even some part of the Muslim community for her choice to be Muslim. Even when things look bleak, she does not give up.
Overall, each character expresses themselves, both in thought and action, in ways that will either make the reader sigh and nod or cringe in utter disgust. I especially enjoyed reading about the love connections and the eventual death of the antagonist, Russell J. Tetler.
This novel is so relevant at the moment because of the state of politics in America. It highlights the value of safe spaces, the need for a strong support system, the beauty and meaning of family, and the importance of solidarity and unity in the face of injustice. Tightrope shows that beyond the political rhetoric and debates, actual lives are affected by the words spoken and actions taken. The author, like many before her, shows the essence and importance of social justice and political fairness.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story and even though it started out a little slow, it picked up the pace and had me on the edge of my seat sooner than later. Much praise to the author for her brilliant work.