Chronicle of a Last Summer by Yasmine El Rashidi

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Title: Chronicle of a Last Summer

Author: Yasmine El Rashidi

Publisher: Tim Duggan Books

Pages: 181 (Hardcover), 192 (Ebook)

Release Date: June 28, 2016

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:

A young Egyptian woman chronicles her personal and political coming of age in this debut novel.

Cairo, 1984. A blisteringly hot summer. A young girl in a sprawling family house. Her days pass quietly: listening to a mother’s phone conversations, looking at the Nile from a bedroom window, watching the three state-sanctioned TV stations with the volume off, daydreaming about other lives. Underlying this claustrophobic routine is mystery and loss. Relatives mutter darkly about the newly-appointed President Mubarak. Everyone talks with melancholy about the past. People disappear overnight. Her own father has left, too—why, or to where, no one will say.

We meet her across three decades, from youth to adulthood: As a six-year old absorbing the world around her, filled with questions she can’t ask; as a college student and aspiring filmmaker pre-occupied with love, language, and the repression that surrounds her; and then later, in the turbulent aftermath of Mubarak’s overthrow, as a writer exploring her own past. Reunited with her father, she wonders about the silences that have marked and shaped her life.

At once a mapping of a city in transformation and a story about the shifting realities and fates of a single Egyptian family, Yasmine El Rashidi’s Chronicle of a Last Summer traces the fine line between survival and complicity, exploring the conscience of a generation raised in silence.

My Thoughts:

It’s rather interesting. I didn’t know much about Egypt’s history which is why I wanted to read this. I did like the free form format of the book. It gave it the feel of being part of the characters thoughts. Even though I found this book interesting, I didn’t like it. I found it threw information at me instead of just showing what was going on. 

Pros:

History: I’m not well informed in Egypt’s modern history so this was rather interesting to me. I have always been interested in other countries modern history than my own. 

Format: Like I said in the My Thoughts sections, I liked how the book was formated. It did add to the feel of being inside the characters head. 

Main Character: I enjoyed how the main character broke from the mold of what was norm in her country. She was a film major, that in it self was unique  according to the book.

Cons:

Main Character: I know I said she was a pro but she sometimes upset me. It seemed like she couldn’t form her own opinion of what was happening to her country. You hear everyone elses opinions, what side they are on and what they believe in but never the protagonist. 

Nameless: The protagonist remains nameless throughout the book. It made it difficult to connect to her. I believe the reader is more apart of her consciousness still, how can no one call her by her name? It was rather frustrating as a reader.

No Show, All Tell: This book doesn’t really show what’s going on. We learn what’s going on from what the news or other people tell the protagonist. Some parts, the protagonist experiences what’s going on but it still feels like she’s just telling us instead of showing. I felt very separated from what is going on.

No Connection: I didn’t care for the characters. I mean I feel bad for some of the characters. I am very empathic so it’s not too difficult to envoke emotion with me. That said, I also didn’t care if something happened to the characters, not even the main characters. 

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this honest review.

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