Saturday, 14 March 2015

"Summer Triangle" by Carolann Copland

Majid watches in horror as his girlfriend dies in a bomb attack at an Irish festival in Saudi Arabia.  Islamic fundamentalists blame the Irish for bringing their western ways to their country and Majid struggles to come to terms with his grief.  Falling in with the wrong crowd, he finds himself embroiled in the Islamic battle against the west and his life takes on a new meaning.  An attack on Irish soil, is planned and Majid is a major cog in the wheel.

Arriving in Ireland, under the pretense of studying, Majid meets Shona, a local girl with her own battles.  A teenage mother, learning to cope with sudden responsibilities, she is trying to change her weaknesses and turn them into strengths.  Living with the father of her child, she feels trapped and alone.  Meeting Majid lifts her spirits and her world suddenly seems brighter.

Tommy adores his baby daughter, but he cannot figure Shona out.  One minute he is preparing for school exams, the next he is a father and partner to a troubled girl he barely knows.  How is he to know what to do?  Who is watching out for him?  When Shona goes missing, he feels relief rather than pain and it forces him to make some grown up decisions...

Carolann Copeland has written a story of many worlds.  The world of intense religious beliefs, the world of teenage parenthood and the world of uncertainty.  Through Majid, Shona and Tommy, the reader is guided through the tentative steps into adulthood, responsibility and  all the obstacles that appear along the way.  The two different cultural backgrounds are so jarringly opposite that it is a little hard to see how they could blend together, but as the story unfolds, it is possible to see how Shona would be attracted to a someone so different.  She is not your average teenager and Majid has an air of mystery and offers a change of direction for her.  I couldn't identify with Shona, however, as she ignored the most important people in her life, instead choosing to think of only herself.  Majid was a bruised and heartbroken young man, who was sucked into the world of fundamentalists whn at his lowest.  But for me, the best character in the novel was Tommy.  A teenager who barely knew his baby's mother, he stepped up to the mark, took his blow on the chin and became an adult overnight.  Everytime he was let down by Shona, I felt his pain and completely understood his anger.  
The Islamic narrative throughout the book was progressive and interlinked with the character's story lines, making it subtle but important.  Skillfully written, this is a book that is not only ideal for adults, but would be a great YA read too.  Political and extreme religious themes can be off putting for a lot of readers of women's fiction but this novel should not be overlooked.  It is more a story of grief, love and the journey to happiness and fulfillment.  What better way to examine these themes, than through the eyes of young adults?

Summer Triangle is published by Emu Ink and is available in paperback and ebook format

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