In honor of World Refugee Day 2018 (which is today, June 20th), I am taking part in a “book blitz” for Regina Timothy’s Full Circle, which is free(!) on Amazon today through June 22nd.
According to the UN, World Refugee Day is set aside to “commemorate the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees”. This can be a complicated and emotional topic, and Timothy approaches it appropriately with compassion and respect.
Full Circle tells the story of Samia, a young woman forced to flee a treacherous life in Iraq. She and her son end up in New York City, where she witnesses the horrendous attack on the Twin Towers of September 11, 2001. Now, she faces life in a foreign land where many people are openly hostile to her existence, struggling to provide for her son.
Timothy’s prose latches onto the reader, compelling you to invest in the characters and keep reading until the resolution. Here’s a taste of it, taken from a chapter in Full Circle where Samia is in the hospital with her son, Aazim, after he has been accused of taking part in a recent terrorist plot, which also causes his own death:
For hours, Samia sat next to her Aazim’s bed like a zombie, clutching his hand. She did not cry, she just sat there – staring into space with his cold hand in hers. A few times she tried praying for her son, but nothing came to mind. So she gave up on the idea. Instead, she thought. She thought of the first day her uncle came to her when she was thirteen. She looked like she had been run over by a train by the time he was done with her, and it was months before she was able to shed her abaya. She thought of the day she found out she would have Aazim; she was barely a woman, engulfed in paralyzing fear and the endless pit of loneliness. She thought of her daring escape in the middle of the night aided by her best friend Mannar and auntie Menna when they found out her brothers planned to stone her the next morning. She thought of her journey to Turkey and her terror when she got to Mardin refugee camp. She thought of the relief she felt standing in the refugee camp when she was given her refugee papers to fly to America. She thought of the first time she set foot in the United States – tired, hungry, homesick, and three months pregnant. She thought of the first time she had been called the enemy, the first time her son had been called a terrorist. Now they were the enemy.
“How am I going to make it without you, Aazim?” she asked aloud. “I’ll be lost without you, you know? How will I get rid of this pain in my chest? It’s so hard for me to accept that after today, I will never see you again, hear your voice, feel your touch, see your smile across the room, or even hear your infectious laugh. Oh, the laugh! God, will I miss that.” She sighed.
“A part of me feels like I made all these sacrifices in vain. Like all the lives that were destroyed were for nothing, and all I did was make it worse. That part of me is angry. Angry at you for not realizing or acknowledging all my sacrifices to give you a better life; angry at me for not working harder to keep you safe, to protect you from the evils of this world, and my mistakes, and my past – like my brother Adham; and angry at Adham for bringing you into all this, sucking you back to a world I thought I had left behind, a world filled with lies, betrayal, and bloodshed, all in the name of God and honor. That angry part of me makes me feel like wrapping my fingers around your neck and squeezing with all my strength until there is no more life in you.
“But then there is also this part of me that is disappointed. Disappointed that, despite my best efforts, I did not protect you from my past, from my mistakes, and the struggles of your people. You had to pay the price for a war that had nothing to do with you. ‘Casualty of war’ is what your uncle called you. Just another fallen soldier of the struggle, a mere statistic. All that means nothing, because this is not what you signed up for; this was not your war to fight.
“You are my son, and you are forever gone from me. There is not a damn thing I can do about it, and I don’t know how to accept that.
“How do I say goodbye? Do I shake your hand, kiss you on the cheek, or just walk out?”
From Full Circle‘s blurb: “Full Circle is a contemporary fiction tale of friendship, family, and hope. It explores the devastation of loss, the great capacity to forgive and the lengths our loved ones will go to protect us”. This book grapples with the state of humanity today through the lens of one family. It is about as far from escapist fluff as a book can get, so if you’re looking for something trendy and easy, this isn’t going to be it; on the other hand, if you’re looking for something that honestly explores the experience of refugees in America, then this is a book you should read. The story is heavy, but it is definitely worth a read.
Sound interesting, but not sure if you’re ready to buy it? There are two things you can do next: first, don’t forget that you can download the eBook free on Amazon today through Friday! Second, you can read my full review of Full Circle here, from when I first read the book.
Author Bio: Regina Timothy is a writer living in Kenya where she enjoys amazing landscapes, exotic wildlife, and beautiful sunsets and sunrises. She has always had an active imagination. By chance, she started blogging in 2010, which rekindled her love for writing and telling stories. When not writing she enjoys watching classic movies (she’s a movie buff), going to the theater and auto shows. Her other books have been listed on the Amazon stores. You can join her on the following platforms: Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17539626.Regina_Timothy