Saffron Dreams by Shaila Abdullah: A Review

Saffron Dreams is a novel that depicts our ever evolving identities and the events and places that form them. It reminds North American nation that within the inside of tragedy, our dreams become an enduring inheritance.

Arissa Illahi, a Muslim artist and author, discovers in a very single moment that no matter how fastidiously you try to map your life, it is life itself that chooses your destiny. Arissa’s story makes the reader realize that there are few people who truly understand the community of Muslims.

Shaila Abdullah is a successful Pakistani-American author, writer, and designer. She has written five books, Saffron Dreams, On The Far Side the Cayenne Wall, and three children’s books My Friend Suhana, Blue Blood in Search of a Rainbow, and, A Manual for Marco.

In Saffron Dreams, the subject Shaila chose for this novel attracts the reader because it is a powerful feminine character and more close to reality. The book is divided into twenty-five parts which in a stunning and easy manner exhibits stories, some of them are real and a few of them belong to the author’s life herself and a few of them belong to the people living in her surroundings.

There are books that are simply beautiful because they are so positive and pleasant and there are those that manage to be beautiful in spite of the pain and the suffering contained within. Shaila Abdullah’s “Saffron Dreams” is comprised of both of that. It is simple but at the same time it exhibits the pain and sufferings.

Her writing is mesmerizing. It beautifully depicts the struggles of  a 9/11 widow and being a Muslim. On one hand it appears like a classically cut diamond – precise, sparkling, blindingly stunning, however conjointly implausibly sharp. It has its comforting moments, the funny bits, the grieves, and its uncanny message of hope, that one finds vivacious and satisfying. The words feel like flying off the pages and float into one’s conscious. It affects you in such a great manner that hardly any other book would possible be able to.

Her masterful storytelling attracts you in from the beginning and does not let you go until you have turned the very last page. Anyone who has lost something or someone dear is going to be touched by this heartbreaking but triumphant story of a woman’s troublesome journey. It makes the reader think how hard it must have been for someone whose life was shattered by a terrorist incident in a country. Not does she loses her life partner to the attack, but she has to face the gruesome attitude of the people of the same country due to her religious affiliation.

Words cannot describe Arissa Illahi’s grief once her husband dies in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center. The videotape sitting on her dresser doesn’t stop to prompt her that they were planning to have their baby’s first ultrasound. She had never imagined that she would have to raise her kid alone. Arissa conjointly finds her husband’s unfinished novel, a project that steam-powered her husband through his life which then motivates Arissa to overcome her grief and fight against the cruelties of life.

Saffron Dreams is written in a memoir mode, taking you deep in to Arissa’s miserable and inner struggles. Trying to bring on what it must have felt like to be a victim in such a worst of times especially for the American Muslims.

Imagine what it would feel like to be within the shoes of a victim who loses her loved one in an incident and yet the world blames you for it simply because you belong to a certain religion. Shaila Abdullah’s book is varied, we tend to have a treat of reading stunning words, a moving story and that we are educated at a similar time. Though this can be a piece of fiction, Arissa’s sadness is real. Her experiences are actually real, appealing and make you believe and be really sure that her life altogether changes in a very awful manner. Her struggle with removing her veil and mixing in with an America that is reeling and frightening.

Her husband Faizan wasn’t alive, her decision to continue along with his novel, and therefore the decisions and struggles of raising a special needs son. One finds oneself emotional at many places in this book.  It’s very emotional to read how Arissa and her son go ahead with their lives, never forgetting who they are: woman, Mother, Daughter, Son, Pakistani, American and Muslim.

One would assume that a book written on a woman who loses her husband  in a terrorist attack would be filled with incessant narrations of tragedy, however instead, this story is interesting and contradictory to one’s expectations. As the very title of the book indicates, Saffron as employed in change of state may be a sensible omen that means many various things such as finding peace after a tumultuous phase in one’s life. And, if we consider this very title Saffron Dreams, it indicates that dreaming on a pillow of saffron means that  a relaxed happy time is returning which is what is depicted in this novel.

Though at times, one may disagree with the author’s idea of depicting a strong woman that is to say that one may not need to adopt the western culture to prove herself true like she did. Nevertheless, any woman braving the odds she faces, to reach her goals is positive in every culture. Overall, Saffron Dream is an interesting and entertaining book. It’s a definite must read for people who want to change their view about life and how to deal with the uncertainties and hard times in a mature and sensible way.

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