Arissa Illahi is a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, Pakistani, American, and Muslim. When the United States, and consequentially the world, was rocked by the horrific terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Arissa's life is turned upside down. Her husband, Faizan, was working at a restaurant in one of the towers and lost his life. Reeling with the loss of her love, Arissa is left struggling and trying to make sense of it all. She is also pregnant with a baby who is destined to have severe special needs and alone. She also becomes a victim of prejudice when attacked because she is wearing her veil. She sheds her veil and goes on a journey of heartbreak and empowerment all the while healing from being abandoned by her mother and building a beautiful relationship with Faizan's parents.
Poetic and moving, the story of Arissa Illahi's heartbreak and strength comes alive in Shaila Abdullah's "Saffron Dreams". This novel is written in a memoir style, taking you deep in to Arissa's heartbreak and inner struggles. Attempting to bring forth what it must be like to be a victim in so many aspects due to the terrorist attacks. Imagine what it must be like to be in the shoes of a follower of Allah and have the world blame you for what you yourself is a victim of also. Shaila Abdullah's book is multifaceted, we are given a treat of reading beautiful words, a moving story and we are also educated at the same time. Although this is a work of fiction, Arissa's heartbreak is real. Her experiences are real. Her struggle with removing her veil and blending in with an America that is reeling and scared. Her surviving when Faizan did not, her decisions to continue with his novel, and the choices and struggles with raising their special needs son. I was moved to tears several times during this book, my heart ached for Arissa and I also found myself cheering her on as she and her son found their footing and moved through their lives, never forgetting who they are: Wife, Mother, Daughter, Son, Pakistani, American and Muslim.
Shaila Abdullah's "Saffron Dreams" is a must read. I want to add, if you purchase "Saffron Dreams" directly from the author's site, http://shailaabdullah.com/SD-buy.html a portion of the proceeds goes to help feed the world's hungry through the Aga Khan Foundation.
From the Author's site: According to the World Bank, the current global crisis has pushed 90 million people into poverty and is slated to have a disastrous impact on health and education projects in the developing world unless the rich nations begin aiding the poor. Please do your part in alleviating global poverty. Your support can help disadvantaged people in the most resource-poor regions of the world
Aga Khan Foundation U.S.A. (AKF USA), a renowned international organization. The book is also offered at a discounted rate of $16.95. Feel free to buy a few copies for friends, family, and coworkers. Aga Khan Foundation develops and promotes creative solutions to address problems that impede social development, primarily in Asia and Africa. Under the umbrella of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), AKF works in the areas of health, education, rural development, civil society and the environment. It is presently engaged in over 100 projects in 18 countries. Please spread the word!