Painted Hands by Jennifer Zobair
Release date: 2013 / 336 pages
(First, a quick aside… After experiencing three computer viruses in a week, I am patiently awaiting my new computer and making do with two older computers — I apologize if this review’s format is a bit rough! What you see before you took many hours to create. I loved this novel, so I hope the review below does this justice!)
Review: A few weeks ago I wrote a review on a romance that described why I am not usually drawn to this genre. However, after reading Painted Hands, I was reminded that I enjoy any genre that includes strong, well-developed, flawed but deeply likeable characters, themes that go beyond simply finding a compatible partner, and hopefully a healthy splash of hero’s journey archetype in the plot. Painted Hands includes all of the above – and is a compelling look at the challenges Muslim-Americans face in the post-911 not-always-United States of America.
The author, Jennifer Zobair, shares a few qualities with her characters including degrees from Smith College and Georgetown Law School as well as a conversion to Islam, and creates incredibly likeable characters who attempt to balance family, culture, career, love and fulfillment. In Zobair’s world of Islam, women do not always find this balance easily (as in the world beyond Islam), but reading about their efforts reminded me that truth truly can be found in fiction.
Zainab Mir is the right-hand-woman of an outspoken Republican Senate candidate and is drawn to a charismatic adversary. Amra Abbas is on the partner track of a prestigious Boston law firm when she finds herself inconveniently on the marriage track as well. But Zainab and Amra are only two of the many fascinating characters who fill this novel. Zobair also provides substantial male characters, too – refreshing! – and I agree with the reviewer on the cover who described Painted Hands as The Namesake meets Sex in the City.
I’m afraid that there will be no giveaway this time! Painted Hands (a reference to the tradition of painting one’s deepest wishes into the palm of one’s hands with henna before a wedding) will find a home in my guest room where I will recommend it often!