When I began Muse Monthly, I set out with a clear goal in mind: to curate extraordinary fiction from world class writers. This, to me, revolved mainly around providing fiction that the Muses (our dear subscribers) would not be able to find elsewhere – we here at Muse Monthly tend to try to steer clear of novels you might pick up at the grocery store or Target, and instead opt to search out debut writers, small publishers, and stories that go against the grain.
To me, The Blue Between Sky and Water is extraordinary fiction. It is emotionally, politically, and morally complex, and told in beautiful, colorful language. And in terms of world class writers, turns out Ms. Abulhawa is a badass bitch, so. There’s that.
What’s exciting about The Blue Between Sky and Water is that it provides a viewpoint about the world that we don’t often get to see. As Americans, we tend to be Team Israel, and in general we have limited access to real stories about the Middle East. We may not realize, but our knowledge of most of the rest of the world is filtered through the media. I, for one, crave novels like this, that provide the opportunity to learn and gain insight into a culture I don’t feel like I have much access to. I’m excited for these learning opportunities, I’m excited to be invited into the home of this miraculous, magical family, and I’m excited to gain a new perspective on the world.
And this story is violent, violent to the point that I almost hesitated making it a Muse Monthly choice. But what’s important is not the violence itself, but the way Nazmiyeh and her family, most especially the women in her family, react to it, and thrive in spite of it. If you’re looking for the elusive and desired Strong Female Character, look no further: the women are broken yet resilient, strong and perceptive. This is epitomized by the hereditary empathy, both Mariam and Nur’s ability to see “colors” or auras. This novel, at it’s center, is about family and the women that hold it together, it is about the real stories, the everyday things that happen while politics are taking place in the background. It is an intense trip through hardship and hurt, but worth it to come out the other end a better person.
Both my mother and I devoured this book, and it’s not hard to see why. It gets both your mind and your heart working just as they should.