I wanted to love this book more than I did. I swear. It has all kinds of promise for exposing the prejudices inherent in the conflict in Israel/Palestine, between Arabs and Jews in the region, and while it definitely covered those topics, I don’t feel like the book as a whole was very reader-friendly.
The Perfect Gentleman is basically the story of what happens when a boy is raised by his immigrant parents to be “English”, but also doesn’t fit in as the same as everyone else in a lot of ways. And it’s also just the story of a boy growing up and struggling to find himself and what makes him happy. It’s universal and specific all at the same time, and it’s a great story.
I loved the personal narratives, but what really caught my attention in this book was the diversity of the experiences represented (including “mainstream” Muslim experiences as well as those of progressive and even LGBTQ-oriented Muslims).
If you want to read a book about rock music in the Muslim world, this book is it.
There are really two main threads in American Dervish: Hayat’s coming-of-age story and Mina’s own story. Both are touching and heartbreaking, but in very different ways. They’re also extremely intertwined with each other … I have to say that there were points in the book where I was definitely taking sides.