Full Circle by Regina Timothy

Rating: 2/5 stars

Published: 24 December 2017

Genre(s): Contemporary literary fiction

Pages: 314 (eARC)

Eight years after the 9/11 attacks, Samia-Al-Sayyid an Iraqi immigrant is living a quiet life in New York City after she fled her home to avoid imminent death.

She works hard for her cold, heartless, high-strung boss, loves her seventeen-years-old-son, and cherishes the close friendship she has formed with her best friend Susan.

Nothing can go wrong, or so she thinks – until the estranged brother she left back in Iraqi shows up on her door step. Then she finds herself in a cab, on her way to the hospital to identify her son, a terror suspect who has blown the city, and with it her boss’ husband, and her best friend’s son. With everything lost, she is forced to flee to Iraq where she confronts her past. Will she make peace with her past? Can she get forgiveness for all the damage she has caused?

Full Circle is a contemporary fiction tale of friendship, family, and hope. It explores the devastation of loss, the great capacity to forgive and the lengths our loved ones will go to protect us.

In the beginning, I wanted to like it because Full Circle about the miasma of fear clouding everyone’s judgement against Muslims after 9/11. This book follows the life of Samia, a Muslim and a single mother, affected by the alienation even 8 years after the horrific event. Readers go into this book expecting a Muslim character’s take on it. However, it’s more towards what someone else imagines how it’s like rather than an actual anecdote of a Muslim suffering alienation after the tragedy.

I’m not a fan of dialogues in books that don’t reflect actual speech. In this case, I think contractions naturally used in conversations would’ve helped improve readability drastically.

For a Muslim character, Samia seems strangely detached from her religion except when pondering that it’s her association with Islam that’s causing her life to be more difficult. This, in turn, misrepresents Islam. In fact, a lot of things that are often considered ‘common knowledge’ about Islamic practices and written in this book are dead wrong. For example, in the community Samia was brought up, a rape victim is by default considered at fault because she allegedly seduced the perpetrator. If the victim wanted to go to the authorities, she is required to bring forth four pious adult male witnesses that saw the rape in front of their eyes. This is unrealistic and in fact ridiculous. Most (if not all) rape victims aren’t able to fulfil this condition. The four male witnesses are required in Islamic law for good reason, and that is to without doubt convict the rapist, who can then be punished according to Islamic law. In this case, the punishment would be stoning to death. A pretty painful way to go, right? Again, I emphasize, there’s a reason for the four adult pious male witnesses. Even if the victim is unable to produce witnesses because, duh, there aren’t any. Who in the right mind would commit rape, a punishable crime, when there are witnesses that they can’t silent (thus the ‘pious’ condition in witnesses). The bottom line is the victim still has the right to seek protection and report this abuse to authorities who can take appropriate actions e.g. produce and enforce a restraining order, put the attacker behind bars etc.

Although, it is logical that liberal terrorists are born from the sort of oppressive environment that has twisted real Islamic values to fit their own agenda. I have no trouble believing Samia ran to America to get away from terrorists wearing skins of her neighbours and family.

Despite all these, Full Circle ultimately carries a positive message. It provides a great overview of the lives of people who are closely affected by the 9/11 tragedy, especially from the point-of-view of Muslims.

Thanks to the author for providing me with a copy, which I won from a giveaway contest hosted by Lynne from Fictionophile. All opinions are my own and are based on the digital review copy.