Nora cannot reconcile the guilt she feels that while she was relaxing over a celebratory glass of champagne with her roommate, her father was, at that very moment, tossed into the air by an as yet unidentified driver and killed. Nor could she believe, even through her profound grief, any possibility that this was a random accident. All she had to do was convince others to see things from her point of view as well. Would she be able to do this, without any witnesses, without anyone coming forward in her favor? Especially when even her family was willing to accept the party line…?
This is an excruciatingly timely story, as it addresses the deep-seated fear and resentment that so many white folks have toward any immigrant that has achieved any modicum of success. This “replacement” conspiracy theory once again rears its hideous head here. Nora, a smart, talented, but dark-skinned, Muslim girl has been left out and “othered” most of her life, growing up in their desert town near Joshua Tree. Similarly, she’s observed her father, a hard-working immigrant from Casablanca, survive being targeted by racial incidents as well. While Nora has found solace in her music, she’s continued to experience micro-aggressions repeatedly and continues to struggle with navigating her way through.
The author makes excellent use of a rotating narration, imbuing a distinctive and familiar voice to each character. It feels as if we are sitting with the characters, hearing their side of the story as it is told perhaps in an interrogation room to the investigating officer. We come to know each character deeply, understand their passions, and feel their pain. It works.
One character that is particularly endearing is Efrain, the singular witness. I will not give away details about him or his perspective, but he is portrayed beautifully and his struggle over coming forward is both understandable and tragic.
This is an engaging story with a powerful message – a worthy read!