Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Reluctant Fundamentalist: A Review

The Reluctant Fundamentalist's main character is a Pakistani man that is torn between his love for his native country and his newfound love for his current country. My own life's main character is an American teenager, born and raised in Florida, and still in Florida. Despite the fact that I've never even been to another country let alone detained at international airports, and that myself and the novel's main character are clearly very different, I am still able to make a personal connection to him and to the Reluctant Fundamentalist.

Man's greatest fear, contrary to popular belief, is not public speaking; the greatest fear is being alone. A subsequent matter is not fitting in, feeling out of place, not belonging. The narrator of the novel often felt this way, belonging neither here nor there, in a sort of limbo between a place he naturally fit in, and a much different place he learned to fit in, leaving him fitting him in nowhere.
Now, as I think of myself an introvert, I often enjoy the tranquility of silence and solitude. I enjoy being alone. However, I do not enjoy feeling lonely. It's a much different feeling to be by yourself for a period of time physically compared compared to being by yourself all the time mentally and emotionally. Often times, this derives from not belonging, or in some cases a delusion that arises from insecurity in which someone is convinced they don't belong, and therefore do not try and do not belong. Perception is reality. Whether loneliness is real or imagined, the feeling is always quite real.

In my previous high school, the stereotypical girl was catty, shallow, self-absorbed, snobby, and all the other synonyms Merriam-Webster can provide. Now, I don't pride myself on being "better" than others, no not at all, rather I hold myself to different standards. Simply because I did not fit the stereotype. Of course I found others that did not fit it as well, and we bonded over that. But the whole time something was just missing. The environment was hateful, you could feel the judgement in the air like humidity after a rainstorm. It's so thick it's blinding. Blinding to the fact that the rest of the world is not like that. Which, I guess, is why I stayed in such a toxic and unfitting environment for 12 years, simply because I did not know anything else. Because of this, I mostly felt as if I didn't belong. As if I was the odd one out for not obsessing over Tori Burch bags and who broke up with who for the nth time. It was all beneath me, not necessarily because I was above it, but simply because it neither interested nor amused me. Like the Pakistani man, Changez, I had a choice. To stay in a place I had known for so long and yet didn't belong, or to go to a new place where I would not belong even more. The latter sounds more bleak, certainly, but there is room for change, and that's why it's the better option here. And that's the choice I made. And like Changez, I chose to tread on a new path. But unlike him, there will be no back-tracking for me, only moving onward.

The writing in this book was, to me, phenomenal. I felt very engaged by the narrator. The author chose to write the novel as a monologue, not one word written is not uttered by Changez. Because of this, I felt as if he was talking to me, and answering the questions popping into my head, rather than his guest. I enjoyed the author's style of writing greatly, it was extremely thorough in expressing the narrator’s thoughts at all times; it was very open writing, the narrator was not timid at all, and as reader I enjoy that because there isn't an opportunity to coerce question answering. The Reluctant Fundamentalist was a book I did not think I was going to enjoy because of the fact I believed I couldn't relate to it as well as the fact the plot seemed uninteresting. I was wrong on both accounts. As explained previously, I could relate. And though the plot wasn't exactly fast-paced, not for a minute was I bored, and I attribute that to the writing. You can take an incredible, action packed plot, but when it's explained with poor writing, it's not an enjoyable read. The opposite is true as well. Take an ordinary plot, write it flawlessly, and create an amazing page-turner. If I took the time to rate this book on amazon, i would most certainly give it five stars.

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