“This is How You Get Better” by Amal Awad (2015)
This blog is a lovely hobby that gives me the opportunity to really stop and think about the books I read. Once in a very little while it also gives me the opportunity to spread my love of stories beyond my immediate circle of friends and colleagues. And it is certainly a way of receiving recommendations. Most people who read my posts, from time to time, ask me if I have read this book or that.
A little over two years ago I had the pleasure of reading the debut novel by Amal Awad – “Courting Samira” because of a recommendation from a colleague, Angie. After I had read the book I blogged about it (Book 5, 2013) and then I emailed to let Amal know that the post was online if she was interested in reading it.
I was genuinely thrilled to hear back from Amal, who let me know she was very pleased with my post and felt that I had really understood Samira, which meant a lot to her. And a few weeks ago I was thrilled again to hear from Amal that she had published her second novel, “This is How You Get Better” which tells the story of Lara, a character from “Courting Samira” whose life has taken a very different turn to Samira’s. Amal very kindly sent me a copy of the novel as a gift, and signed it, for which I am very grateful.
And today, pretty much in one uninterrupted sitting, I have read the book. I could not put it down. I didn’t need to, given that I am on holidays by the beach and there are no rules here, but I am extremely pleased there were no obligations to pull me away from Lara and her story.
The thing, for me, that makes Awad’s writing so very readable is how very human her characters are. In “Courting Samira” I wanted to reach into the book and hold Samira’s hand, let her know I was on her side, that I wanted the best for her. In “This is How You Get Better” I wanted to leap into the book and wrap Lara up in a big hug, reassure her, comfort her, tell her I really, really, really understood how confusing life can be.
Amal Awad is a writer of characters. She makes them whole. She makes them vulnerable. She makes you care. She writes about emotional angst, confusion and the big questions of life in a simple and realistic style. Lara is a woman we know, a woman we have all met, maybe a woman in our family, maybe some readers will identify with Lara themselves. This is not a romance with a happy ending in the way “Courting Samira” was. It is a messy, murky, realistic journey through one woman’s painful mistakes and relentless uncertainty.
Just as I finished with my “Courting Samira” review, again I will end with a hearty endorsement – this book is highly recommended reading.