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The Shadow of the Crescent Moon    by Fatima Bhutto order for
Shadow of the Crescent Moon
by Fatima Bhutto
Order:  USA  Can
Penguin, 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

In a small village near Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, the people suffer. Men leave and do not return. Military patrols are everywhere, and shooting occurs daily. Supplies are delivered irregularly. Neighbors are suspicious of each other. Schools are a shambles, and university professors and medical professionals have left the area. To go out of the house is to invite trouble.

This story takes place on a single morning. It is the time of Eid, when the men go to their mosques to pray. It is also to be the time of an armed confrontation against the military, planned by the rebels. In this atmosphere three brothers breakfast together, after which they go separate ways. The oldest, back from studies in America, heads for a mosque. The second, a doctor, must stop by the hospital before he can go for prayers. The youngest leaves on a motorbike. As the hours pass, we learn the family's history, their losses and their agony. Against a terrible feeling of powerlessness, we see how even the weakest can show courage and the most radical can change their way of thinking.

Although the writing is simple and direct, the story unfolds very obliquely, and it is hard to make out what is really happening. Certain particulars seem to be missing; maybe we need more background and more about the characters. It is plain that the author has plumbed the emotional depths of her people and her country, but the plot is not as cohesive as I think the author meant it to be, and so we are left with some dissatisfaction. Still, it is a very moving story.

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