3 out of 4 stars
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Too Late to Mourn: The Intricacy of my Friend's Life by Christian Tyoder and Lynn Tyoder is a historical fiction novel based on real-life events. It's the story of a brief but unlikely friendship between Hans Reinberg, a 28-year-old doctoral graduate, and Abdulai Rasulov, a retired doctor. The two find themselves waiting out a snowstorm in a cafeteria in Paris. This inconvenient force of nature has them bonding and eventually agreeing to carpool to their various destinations. From this moment on, they are basically stuck with each other and by the time they say their goodbyes, the young Hans has become deeply fond of his old friend.
It's a sad but casual goodbye as the two part ways and Hans is quite surprised when Abdulai makes a request asking him to one day write the memoir of his life. This he accepts, not knowing that that was the last time he would ever see or hear from his friend again. It is revealed later on that he wasn't the only one who missed an opportunity to say a proper goodbye to Abdulai, hence the relevance of the book's title.
Given the vast amount of detail contained in the 305 pages of this book, It's not one to be rushed through. Although it started out slow, in the beginning, the pace steadily picked up and by the time I got past the first two chapters, I was fully invested in the characters. From childhood, Abdulai was a charismatic and obedient boy who gracefully carried these qualities into his adult life. It's inspiring how consistent his character traits are and I picked up valuable lessons on hard work and compassion from him. The other characters featured in the book, mainly his family members and co-workers were also well-formed but none of them stood out to me as much as Abdulai Rasulov (Abd) did.
The story is consistently told from the third person point of view, except for instances where correspondence letters between individuals are shared. Abd being a highly accomplished academic in the medical field, there are numerous medical terminologies used. These coupled with a few legal terminologies were a bit difficult to grasp but the services of a dictionary came in handy.
Amidst the reality of Abd's life, themes of war, friendship, religion, discrimination, depression, family and cultural values are well tackled. This is done in accordance with the time period, given that the book is set in the 20th century. I especially liked how the authors painted an accurate picture of the various scenarios. From the flow of the story, I could envision the life of an Afghan refugee, challenges faced by an Arab immigrant to Europe, the pain of a divorced, single, dad, a conniving ex-wife's evil plot and the obstacles faced by a young woman trying to get in touch with her roots.
There were several moments when I paused to reflect on my own relationship with my family members. From this story, it dawned on me that people should be appreciated while they still live and that to have a fruitful life, monetary wealth shouldn't be placed before things that money can't buy.
Due to the multiple typos I encountered, like misspelled words, use of the wrong form of a verb and misspelled names, I won't give this book a full rating but will award it 3 out of 4 stars. These issues could easily be reconciled with a round of editing.
This being a poignant and reflective read, I would recommend it to students of psychology, immigrants and anyone seeking to strengthen the bond with their family members.
Too Late to Mourn
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