3 out of 4 stars
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My Trip to Adele by R. I. Alyaseer & A. I. Alyaseer
In My Trip to Adele, three longing hearts are on their own quests for different things in life, in their various parts of the world. At the end of each journey, they wish to see Adele perform in Rome, Italy, but what stands between them and their treasured vocalist are life’s greatest trials, discoveries, and fulfillments.
Nadia, our heroine (from Amman, Jordan) has pursued a journey of freedom from her abusive marriage, escaping with her son and her dignity after 8 years of fighting in court. Now, surrounded by her son, dependable brother and supportive close friend, she embarks in a journey with her son to see Adele in Rome. He is her entire world, but her ex-husband is not done causing trouble in her life yet. He pulls on the benefits the law allows him and the oppressive patriarchy of Nadia’s culture to thwart her in any way he can.
Across the globe, Elias has soaked in Marrakesh, Morocco and the wonders of El-Fnaa Square. When he comes across a sex worker, Malika, he falls in love and spends the entire paid night talking with her. He repeats the ritual and they share virtues until it’s time for him to leave, but Malika has made it clear she has goals. When 8 years pass, and Elias wants to sense her beautiful essence again, the Adele concert in Rome becomes the prime spot! Elias knows nothing of the new, accomplished Malika, and ultimately, he learns more about himself and the human experience than he does about her.
Finally, in Las Vegas, USA, Yaser seeks freedom from his structured and shallow marriage, for which he blames his wife’s devout faith. Yaser makes attempts at healing their marriage with therapy and time apart, but it soon becomes clear that to spark their love again, they need to relive something beautiful. Yaser obtains tickets for Adele’s concert in Rome, and the outcome of this journey looks drastically different from the beginning of it.
What I liked most about My Trip to Adele was the way the Alyaseers infused suspense into a romantic world. It was a page turner for sure, and here’s why: the authors displayed a masterful usage of the characters’ time, specifically the 8-year gap in Elias’ story. The flashbacks to when Elias first met Malika felt just as tangible as the present-day search for her. In a world as complicated and scary as human trafficking and sex work, you cannot help but fear what may have happened to Malika. Every time I turned the page into Elias’ story, I read on the edge of my seat. There was beauty and wonder wrapped up in her youthful character energy, and she was the light at the end of Elias’ tunnel. So, the authors used the 8-year gap to open endless possibilities for her whereabouts. Furthermore, the same 8-year gap was used in Nadia’s story, which brings me to another treasure of this text. Nadia is amazing! Her determination and strength of character helped balance the boredom experienced in Yaser’s story. Nadia’s 8-year gap was the time she spent fighting legally for her son and her freedom from her abusive marriage. That 8 years is a well of power, a resource she pulls from and will never go without. She stands up to her most targeted and personal threats. Using flashbacks in a story that already has 3 different narrators, with complicated lives and journeys to go on is not always an easy way to go. However, the characters and their experiences were so captivating and memorable (especially Nadia’s and Elias’) that everything I read was easily mentally organized.
What I didn’t like about this book was the formal and almost Shakespearean diction. Even the dialogue seemed unnaturally poetic. I understand that the authors are not American, so the way they write will be different from what I have been exposed to. However, that truth does not make it easier for me to embrace the dialogue. Easygoing and uplifting moments lack humor greatly, except for tiny moments from Yaser’s close friend, Gilbert. Moments of conflict between Yaser and Mariam seem unrealistic because where I’m used to petty insults, crying, and yelling in Western books, this couple is calling each-other “frozen wastelands” and maturely exploring their past 8 years together with occasional formal caresses. Not that this, in itself, is negative, it just loses value in a book because it is unrealistic and unenjoyable for me. Maybe the fact that I enjoy books with younger characters also plays a role in this disconnect.
I give this book 3 out of 4 stars. Not only did it lack humor, but the overly poetic nature of the dialogue made me feel distant from the characters, like they were in a fairytale. With that being said, it was an otherwise excellent book. If you are more of a Romance fan than a Contemporary Fiction fan, this is for you. It has the traditional feeling of a romance book instead of the informal and humorous style of modern Western romance, which I personally prefer. Altogether, the diversity of the personas’ situations and the similarity of their goals is a very grounding concept. It gave me as the reader something to hold on to and to wait for.
My Trip To Adele
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