Friday, May 8, 2009

31 Hours by Masha Hamilton

31 Hours offers disturbing insight into a world few people know much about.

Right from the start, this quick read creates a fantastic sense of urgency - Carol's son Jonas is missing and she senses something is not right with him. Her intuition proves true, although she does not know it yet, as Jonas is preparing himself to carry out an extreme mission for the Islam faith. The chapters rotate through points of view from a number of characters, most of which we learn deeply care for Jonas. Among the many voices are Jonas' parents, his long-time friend Victoria, his mentor Masoud, even the homeless man working the same subway morning after morning. With so many different people involved in the story, the reader can sometimes tend to feel a little overwhelmed. I did not find that to be the case with 31 Hours- instead finding an engaging beauty in how the separate stories were more intertwined than could be known at the time.

Hamilton has taken a scary, sensitive topic and written a stunning book about it. Her prose flows off the page with ease, pulling you along with it's immediacy. I could barely take a breath until the last page was turned.