Blue Rider Press|March 20, 2012|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-0-399-15845-2
An exceptional debut novel about a young Muslim was orphan whose family is killed in a military operation gone wrong, and the American solider to whom his fate, and survival, is bound. Jonas is fifteen when his family is killed during an errant U.S. military operation in an unnamed Muslim country. With the help of an international relief organization, he is sent to America, where he struggles to assimilate-foster family, school, a first love. Eventually, he tells a court-mandated counselor and therapist about a U.S. solider, Christopher Henderson, responsible for saving his life on the tragic night in question. Christopher’s mother, Rose, has dedicated her life to finding out what really happened to her son, who disappeared after the raid in which Jonas’ village was destroyed. When Jonas meets Rose, a shocking and painful secret gradually surfaces from the past, and builds to a shattering conclusion that haunts longer after the final page.
Told in spare, evocative prose, The Book of Jonas is about memory, about the terrible choices made during war, and about what happens when foreign disaster appears at our own doorstep. It is rare and virtuosic novel from an exciting new writer to watch.
Fifteen-year-old, Younis, who changes his name to, Jonas, has lost his family when they are killed during an errant U.S. military operation in an unnamed Middle Eastern country. He is sent to America through an international relief organization. Younis changes his name on the airplane during his flight to America. When the flight attendant hands out landing cards, he borrows a pen and writes the name, Jonas. He plans to tell anyone that asks that the name, Jonas, is a direct translation of his old name although he knows that is not quite true. Other than his name, his only worldly possessions are fifty dollars in cash and a small duffel bag of clothing – not much for a fifteen-year-old to start a new life with in a new country.
The Book of Jonas is a compelling novel that describes the human cost of war and the long-lasting effects on the human mind. Adjusting to his new life in America proves more difficult than Jonas originally thought. Mandated to see a therapist, Jonas begins to explore what happened. He eventually turns to alcohol in order to cope. The book is written as if it were a funeral mass with chapter titles: Processional, Remembrance, Communion, Confession, etc. It was an interesting way to read a story and I didn’t expect the ending at all. For a debut novel this will be a big hit.