Review Mine Brødre (My brothers) by Adel Khan Farooq

Plot

Mine Brødre is a new Norwegian Young Adult novel by a second generation immigrant to Norway. It’s about a second grade Pakistani immigrant who lives with his family in Oslo. He’s Norwegian in that he was born in Norway, has a Norwegian passport, speaks Norwegian, speaks pretty much no Arabic, and can’t write in Urdu. He does normal Norwegian-teen things, he plays soccer, smokes, drinks, hangs out with his friends and you know. He has a massive crush on a Somali girl in his class called Faiza, who is a dedicated, modern Muslim girl, and who loves talking to him about her faith. The protagonist is a casual Muslim, he doesn’t pray, he can’t read much Arabic, and he doesn’t see the point, but likes reading the Qur’an in Norwegian with Faiza. The book is set right before and after the Paris terrorist attack at the Eagles of Death Metal concert. The protagonist is continually disappointed, and is sliding towards depression when Faiza moves. He then finds a Muslim brotherhood in Oslo where he finally feels accepted, and where he finally finds people who take him seriously.

Thoughts

I thought it was very interesting to read about such a casual Muslim boy who sees what IS are doing, who sees the terrorist attacks in Paris and is horrified by both, being slowly turned into someone who considers going to Syria to fight. I feel like it was an interesting concept, I’m not sure it was executed as well as it could have been. I also realize I’m not in any way a Muslim teen from the East side of Oslo, but he seemed to flip really quickly. He seemed so naïve.

I did however really like seeing how young men get recruited to these brotherhoods, and it does seem very honest and real. The charismatic leader of the Oslo brotherhood seems charming and he seems like a guy who could easily trick boys to go off to Syria. He uses charm and all the good parts of Islam to bring people into the brotherhood, and then slowly turns them.

I thought it was clever to make a sort of light and dark part of the protagonist’s life through Faiza and the brotherhood. It’s a bit heavy-handed at times, but I thought it worked pretty well.

I thought the ending was a bit of an easy out, but I also thought the author managed to work up quite a bit of tension and I was terrified that the protagonist would do something incredibly stupid. I also think that the ending I think it needs would have been a bit boring, so I think I prefer this one which is a bit sweeter.

Finally

I think this was a fairly good book. I think it’s a really important subject and I think it’s a fascinating subject. I have another book on the same subject, but it’s a non-fiction book, I think I’ll still push it up the reading list though and read it sooner.

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