As Charlie begins his year as a freshman, he recounts his ordeals about himself, his new friends, and his observations about his family to an anonymous friend. Careful to reveal more than is needed, Charlie shares his world, his blooming first love, and surprising and unexpected rites of passage. Through it all, Charlie is aware of a strangeness in him that he cannot place.
Personal Take: This book surprised me. I had this on my list for so long, and in my mind I built it up to be this beautiful writing that carried a monumental sort of story. While it wasn’t the beautiful writing I imagined, there is definitely something raw and beautiful in the way Charlie’s voice comes off the pages. Clever, only slightly objective, but still deeply entrenched in his reality, Charlie takes readers through a journey that is both wild and mundane, enlightening and disturbing. And still, his account cuts clear with the intent of his honestly.
I couldnt’ get enough of Charlie’s story, or of his family or friends. I feel like I’ve left behind people that I know so well to continue living their stories after the last page, and I love that feeling.
It is definitely a must-read.
Audience: Older teens and adults for sexual themes.
Other recommendations: This is the only novel published by Chboksy, while he edited Pieces, a collection of short stories by budding writers.
“Walk barefoot and the thorns will hurt you…” —Iraqi-Turkmen proverb A riveting story of hope and despair, of elation and longing, Barefoot in Baghdad takes you to the front lines of a different kind of battle, where the unsung freedom fighters are strong, vibrant—and female. An American aid worker of Arab descent, Manal Omar moves to Iraq to help as many women as she can rebuild their lives. She quickly finds herself drawn into the saga of a people determined to rise from the ashes of war and sanctions and rebuild their lives in the face of crushing chaos. This is a chronicle of Omar’s friendships with several Iraqis whose lives are crumbling before her eyes. It is a tale of love, as her relationship with one Iraqi man intensifies in a country in turmoil. And it is the heartrending stories of the women of Iraq, as they grapple with what it means to be female in a homeland you no longer recognize. “Manal Omar captures the complex reality of living and working in war-torn Iraq, a reality that tells the story of love and hope in the midst of bombs and explosions.” —Zainab Salbi, founder and CEO of Women for Women International, and author (with Laurie Becklund) of the national bestselling book Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny: Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam “A fascinating, honest, and inspiring portrait of a women’s rights activist in Iraq, struggling to help local women while exploring her own identity. Manal Omar is a skilled guide into Iraq, as she understands the region, speaks Arabic, and wears the veil. At turns funny and tragic, she carries a powerful message for women, and delivers it through beautiful storytelling.” —Christina Asquith, author of Sisters in War: A Story of Love, Family and Survival in the New Iraq “At turns funny and tragic…a powerful message for women, [delivered] through beautiful storytelling.” —Christina Asquith, author of Sisters in War
Personal Take: It’s 4:49 in the morning and I just finished reading this book and thought I better review it when it’s still fresh in my head. This book is everything I wonder about when i meet someone new at school and I hear they just moved from Iraq. I usually just avoid looking at them, not because I think war is infectious, but because my curiosity could be interpreted as a disrespectful and insensitive attitude on my part.
The book tells stories of Iraq, the women of Iraq more specifically. The author seems to be taken in by the beauty and charm of the land right from the beginning but it takes a while for the people to accept her. My heart is not strong enough to handle the news and when the war broke out in Iraq I was 12 years old, so I was pretty much clueless on the whole thing. Throughout this book, I lived through the pain and sorrows and rejoices of real people who would probably be haunted by everything they belonged to in the past for the rest of their lives. I know there are many other nonfiction books out there telling stories just as heartbreaking, but this one is different because I have lived it and the stories are embedded in my mind for God knows how long.
Audience: Adults. Young Adults.