This book is hard for me to write about, given today’s society. If you have any empathy for Muslims, you are viewed as anti-Christian. If you support the current administration, you are a Muslim sympathizer, which means you are anti-Christian. I have been called a moron, an idiot, a sheep, a follower of the second Hitler (Obama). I have been told people are embarrassed for me for being liberal. I have been told to think for myself and not to blindly follow the liberal media. I’ve taken this criticism via social media for, oh, 8 years now, since Obama took office. Side note: I do support our president. I do not think he is a Muslim. I do not think he wants to take away Christian rights. And, amazingly enough, I do think for myself. I actually listen to the other side all the time. I am not an emotional person. I look at fact and logic. My entire belief is about giving people the benefit of the doubt. And yes, this includes Muslims, African-Americans, Hispanics, Christians, Jews, and anyone else who may cross my path. I’m not quick to judge.
When a friend recommended this book, I knew I had to read it for my 2016 book challenge for a “book of an unfamiliar culture.” I admit that I don’t know as much as I would like to about the Islamic belief, and I certainly don’t understand radical thinking of any kind. And 93 pages later, I have hope. A tiny sliver of hope. TED talks brings us the story of a boy growing up with a radical Muslim father. The father, born in Egypt, hates America. He hasn’t always, but some recent events have led him down this path. The boy, Z, was born in the US. His mother, born in PA, converted when she was 18, met the father, and was married 10 days later. Life was good for a number of years. Then the father had some trouble, met some people, and events were put into motion. The father, El-Sayyid Nosair, was convicted of murdering a rabbi, and helped orchestrate, from behind bars, the 1993 bombing of the WTC. Wikipedia Z was just a small boy when all this happened. His world was taken away by his father’s actions. He was bullied growing up, mercilessly, for who he was, who his father was. It wasn’t until his mother changed their surname, moved to Florida, and gave her family a new start that Z started to find himself.
A normal coming of age story deals with homework, dating, getting a job, buying a car. Z’s story deals with coming to terms that his father chose terrorism over his family. Z no longer speaks to his father. He has chosen to lead a life of peace, speaking out against violence.
In today’s world, where violence is so shocking, yet so pervasive, we should all take a page from this book. Z took the more difficult path. The path of escape from his radical father. It would have been easy to throw himself into his father’s footsteps, join the war, support the radical beliefs. But he didn’t. And that is what true strength is.