Written by Theresa Corbin
A new book is out today, and I had the pleasure of getting an advanced copy.
Behind Picket Fences, by Hend Hegazi, is a fiction novel that follows the lives of 4 couples in one neighborhood. Honestly, I was not super jazzed about reading the book at first because most everything I pick up to read lately has been disappointing.
But after the first chapter of Behind Picket Fences flew by, I knew this book would was going to break the literary dry spell. Once I had finished the second chapter, I was living the story. Behind Picket Fences has so much raw, emotional truth in it that it brought me to tears, both happy and sad, a number of times.
Every chapter leaves you wanting more. And every new chapter picks up the thread of another couple’s story. Each tale beautifully interwoven with the others as the neighbors lives profoundly affect one another.
All couples see each other’s lives as some how better than their own, even though each couple has their own struggles to wade through.
But the best part about this novel is that it normalizes Muslim life in America in a time where we desperately need to see that.
In a time with so much hate spreading, Muslims crave to see and non-Muslims need to see normal, everyday Muslims represented in literature and art and not just be the token “Muslim” who is just there for diversity’s sake, or -even worse-the one dimensional villain.
Not all the characters are Muslim, but their are a few Muslim characters who go about their days praying, making dua (supplication), working, interacting with their non-Muslim neighbors, and struggling with all that life throws at them. Just as any normal Muslim living in a suburban neighborhood would.
Their is a brief moment of suspicion from another neighbor about their faith, which was kind of out of place in the novel, but is not atypical in reality.
At one point, I thought one of the Muslims characters, when asked for advice, was going to try and get preachy and pressure another character to convert to Islam. But it didn’t go down like that. Which to me was refreshing because I would hate to see something so well written and emotionally charged end up being dawah material.
Not that there is anything wrong with that explaining and inviting people to Islam. It is just that sometimes non-Muslims just need to see inside of Muslims’ lives without there being any other intentions. And that is exactly what this book provides- a glimpse into a normal American Muslim family’s life with all its ups and downs alongside other normal and Multi-faith, American families facing life’s struggles.
It had been a while since I have been able to get lost in fiction. And Behind Picket Fences made that possible for me again. For that, I am grateful.
Get your copy on Amazon today! (<– Click the link)
The exceedingly talented author, Hend Hegazi, was born and raised in Attleboro, Massachusetts. She graduated from Smith College in 2000, majoring in biology and minoring in religion. In 2002 she moved to Egypt to be with her husband. Hend is a stay at home mother of four and finds that writing helps in the struggle to keep her sanity. She is also the author of Normal Calm available on Amazon.
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