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Saffron Dreams

Saffron Dreams

4.4 15
by Shaila Abdullah

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Saffron Dreams is a tale of love, tragedy, and redemption from the award-winning author of Beyond the Cayenne Wall...

You don't know you're a misfit until you are marked as an outcast.

From the darkest hour of American history emerges a mesmerizing tale of tender love, a life interrupted, and faith recovered. Arissa Illahi, a Muslim


Saffron Dreams is a tale of love, tragedy, and redemption from the award-winning author of Beyond the Cayenne Wall...

You don't know you're a misfit until you are marked as an outcast.

From the darkest hour of American history emerges a mesmerizing tale of tender love, a life interrupted, and faith recovered. Arissa Illahi, a Muslim artist and writer, discovers in a single moment that no matter how carefully you map your life, it is life itself that chooses your destiny. After her husband's death in the collapse of the World Trade Center, the discovery of his manuscript marks Arissa's reconnection to life. Her unborn son and the unfinished novel fuse in her mind into one life-defining project that becomes, at once, the struggle for her emotional survival and the redemption of her race. Saffron Dreams is a

novel about our ever evolving identities and the events and places that shape them. It reminds us that in the midst of tragedy, our dreams can become a lasting legacy.

Praise for Saffron Dreams

"Eloquently written, a must-read for any one interested in exploring the lived experiences of Muslim women in the United States."
--Ali Asani, PhD, Professor of the Practice

of Indo-Muslim Languages and Cultures, Harvard University

"Saffron Dreams is an unflinching look at the societal pressures of

widowhood, the role that art can play in the healing process, and

the impact of media bias and stereotyping on the Muslim American

community in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks."

--Sandhya Nankani, Literary Safari

"Following Arissa's story makes the reader realize how little most of

us know and understand the world of Muslims, and how incredibly

wrong so many of our perceptions are."

--Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson, Reader Views

"Shaila Abdullah's Saffron Dreams is a fascinating look at how events

can quickly change a life forever. The thread of Muslim beliefs in

a modern world, and especially how women balance ancient and

modern traditions, is a fresh and different viewpoint."

--Sandie Kirkland, Rebecca's Reads

About the Author

Shaila Abdullah is a Pakistani-American author and designer based

in Austin, Texas. Her first book, Beyond the Cayenne Wall, is an award-winning collection of stories about Pakistani women struggling to find their individualities despite the barriers imposed by society. For more information, please visit


Saffron Dreams is Book #5 of the Reflections of America Series

from Modern History Press www.ModernHistoryPress.com

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

In this insightful, intimate narrative, Pakistani-born Arissa Illahi moves to New York City to be with her husband, who had taken a job at the World Trade Center's Windows on the World restaurant to allow time for completing his novel. He perishes when the towers collapse, and Arissa nearly crumples herself as she struggles with tremendous grief, a troublesome pregnancy, and the various trials she faces as a Muslim when others ignorantly associate her with the terrorists. Abdullah excels at examining the complexity of moving on after this historical event, especially from Arissa's unique perspective as a writer and artist struggling to rear a child with special needs. But this debut novel deals with more than just survival in the aftermath of 9/11, also examining the nature of motherhood by juxtaposing Arissa's supportive mother-in-law and less than maternal mother. Like Abdullah's story collection, Beyond the Cayenne Wall, this work provides a remarkable, inevitably hopeful glimpse into the daily life of Muslim woman living in America. Highly recommended.
—Faye A. Chadwell

Journal - Library Journal
"Like Abdullah's story collection, Beyond the Cayenne Wall, this work provides a remarkable, inevitably hopeful glimpse into the daily life of Muslim woman living in America. Highly recommended."
--Library Journal
Newspaper - Dawn Newspaper
"As I read some of the bleakest parts of the novel, I was unable to remain dry-eyed and chances are it will have the same impact on many other readers, which in itself speaks volumes of its success." --Dawn Newspaper
Library Journal - Faye Chadwell
In this insightful, intimate narrative, Pakistani-born Arissa Illahi moves to New York City to be with her husband, who had taken a job at the World Trade Center's Windows on the World restaurant to allow time for completing his novel. Like Abdullah's story collection, Beyond the Cayenne Wall, this work provides a remarkable, inevitably hopeful glimpse into the daily life of Muslim woman living in America. Highly recommended.
S. Krishna's Books - Swapna Krishna
What really struck me about Saffron Dreams is that the 9/11 attacks aren't the only serious subject addressed in this small novel. Abdullah manages to talk about racism, fundamentalism, widowhood, culture clashes, and the challenges of raising a child with disabilities within its pages. I thoroughly enjoyed Saffron Dreams and recommend it to anyone interested in multicultural fiction – it's a great read and you won't be disappointed.
Dawn Newspaper - Marylou Andrew
What really struck me about Abdullah’s writing is that after a while you forget about the character’s religion and relate to her as a human being. As I read some of the bleakest parts of the novel, I was unable to remain dry-eyed and chances are it will have the same impact on many other readers, which in itself speaks volumes of its success.

Product Details

Loving Healing Press
Publication date:
Reflections of America Ser.
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.69(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Shaila Abdullah is a Pakistani-American author and designer based in Austin, Texas. Her first book, Beyond the Cayenne Wall, is an award-winning collection of stories about Pakistani women struggling to find their individualities despite the barriers imposed by society. For more information, please visit www.ShailaAbdullah.com.

Saffron Dreams is Book #5 of the Reflections of America Series from Modern History Press www.ModernHistoryPress.com

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Saffron Dreams 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
ChrystalMahan More than 1 year ago
9/11. I remember it well. We’ve heard all of the stories. Friend. Family. Co-workers. Children. Police. Fire Fighters. EMT. Other rescue units. Someone knew someone who knew someone. But can you imagine what it must have been like to be an American Muslim in this time? Not only an American Muslim, but a woman at that. Shaila Abdulla tells the story of her character loosing her husband on the terrible attack on American on Septermber 11. She shares not only the wonderful relationship she and her husband shared, but what it was like for her to deal with her loss. We live in a world of anger and blame. We live in a world where we cannot coexist. We try. We make due. But we are quick to pass judgement and even quicker to lay blame. We stereotype. We judge. Shaila puts it all out there, telling readers what has been like for her, as a Muslim woman to have to deal with the meanness of others after the terrorist attacks. She was judged. She was ridiculed. And through it all, she had to stay strong. To me her tale is somewhat fictional, somewhat non. I don’t know how she did it. I don't know how any Muslim American handled their selves after that. I watched the series American Muslim on TLC last year. I never knew Dearborn, MI (right in my backyard) had the highest population of Muslim in the United States. I have done research papers for my undgergrad and grad degree on various aspects of the Muslim culture and religion. When I went to college on-campus at Oklahoma State, it was not uncommon for me to share the classroom with students from all over the world. We were one of the largest international student exchange hosts and programs in the United States. So, when I see hate crimes based on religion, it really makes me angry. I wish everyone would take the time to understand we are ALL human. We all hurt and feel pain. And just because we share the same beliefs as someone who has done terrible acts, we are NOT the same as them.
s8r8l33 More than 1 year ago
In this book, a woman from Pakistan must regain her life after the Twin Towers were destroyed in 2001. She lost her Pakistani husband in this tragic event and she was pregnant. This book is fiction. The writer tries to put the reader in touch with the character and her inner feelings. However, I felt a little disjointed reading this. The writer tries to draw the reader into the assumed stereotyping and Muslim bashing which came into view after this tragic event. It did not work for me. I enjoyed reading this book, however I cannot say it enlightened me. The whole book is 232 pages, a quick read really. We all have our own personal views after this event and this book just did not connect for me. I took it for what it is, fiction.
Regular_Mel More than 1 year ago
Saffron Dreams is an insightful look at how to find strength and faith in the midst of loss and devastation. While reading this book I was taught the perspective of a woman whose world was flipped on it side - and whose support system dwindled because of prejudice and fear. The author, Shaila, was able to take me on an emotional roller coaster with her main character, Arissa, who - while dealing with the loss of her husband in the attack on the World Trade Center, must also learn to raise a special needs child in a society that now views her as a threat. This book offers a poignant view into the life of a fiercely independent muslim woman as she struggles with the shortcomings of her family and society - along with a battle to find her own confidence as she is hit with emotional blow after blow. This book will strip away preconceptions of the dutiful Pakistani daughter, wife, and mother - to show you an exceptionally dynamic woman, struggling with faith and pulling her life back together again piece by piece. There is no doubt why this book, and this author, wins awards time and time again. I highly recomend reading this novel. On a side note - my husband snagged the book from me when I was halfway through, and could not put it down.
adela3 More than 1 year ago
In the eloquently written novel Saffron Dreams, Shaila Abdullah tells the painfully moving story of Arissa, a Pakistani-Muslim living in New York City. Arissa is left a mourning, pregnant widow after her husband tragically loses his life during the events of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Delve into the emotional turmoil that haunts Arissa following the loss of her husband and the onset of Islamophobia in America, causing Arissa to feel like an outcast in her own home, unsure of where she falls in the cultural make-up of our society. Saffron Dreams chronicles her evolving existence after the tragic loss of her husband as she struggles to move forward as a widow, a single mother, an American, a Muslim, all the while trying to rectify her place in society with these new titles and nuances thrust upon her. Saffron Dreams is a poignant story that enables the reader to embrace a fresh, personal understanding of Muslim-Americans living in a post-9/11 world. The academic edition provides the reader with thought-provoking questions and both theme and chapter-specific talking points in order to stir discussions on racism, fundamentalism, feminist issues, and an understanding of Islam, separate from prejudices or preconceived notions. Perfect for course discussion starters, reading groups, or for your own benefit in pushing the limits of your intellectual bounds, challenging you to delve deeper into the meaningful issues this book brings to the surface. Abdullah's greatest success through this narrative is her ability to tug at her reader's heartstrings and draw them into the shattered existence of her main character. You will be hanging on her every expressively written word as you join Arissa on her journey of mourning, healing, and pursuit of rebuilding an identity and existence for herself while creating a living legacy for the husband she has lost. This telling tale is a must-read I would recommend to anyone interested in exploring an American identity story often under-expressed but important to grasp in today's world.
Humbee More than 1 year ago
"Saffron Dreams," is about letting go and learning to live despite every challenge life brings. It's about the strength of women and relationships. It's about the experience of women left behind in the 9/ll Twin Towers/World Trade Center terrorist attack. And, it's about the Muslim woman's experience in America. Ms Abdullah has a big order to fill, and she comes shining through like a bird of paradise! I loved this book for so many reasons, it will be difficult to convey them to you, so you'll ultimately just have to read the book for yourself to understand. I had to keep reminding myself that it was a novel and not a memoir...looking back again and again at the gorgeous cover and searching the eyes of the beautiful Pakistani woman for clues of the inner soul of such a writer. The main character, Arissa, is a young woman who was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan. After having survived a home of material wealth and non-existent maternal love, Arissa becomes wed in a traditional "arranged marriage." Surprisingly, this marriage is to a young man she had previously met on a trip to New York visiting relatives! Fortune seemed to be with them from the beginning. On the flip side of that fortune, however, rests a bad omen flung at them by a seer woman who predicts that the young husband will dance with fire. Arissa and Faizan also have dreams of flames and smoke, but set these things aside and ignore them. Of course, these omens find their fulfillment as Faizan is killed in the 9/11 World Trade Center attack. We learn along the way such interesting information as Muslim life in the everyday workings of the kitchen cookery (recipes are included), the different meanings of the veils the women wear, the landscape and gardens of Pakistan, and the role saffron plays in the life of Arissa. I will never look at or smell Night Blooming Jasmine in quite the same way again. Arissa is an artist, writer, observer of the world, and faithful woman. Her agony is quietly and honestly shared with us. Ms Abdullah knows grief and heartbreak. Her novel tells us truly the pain of loss and the redemptive qualities that keep one living despite them. I was widowed at a young age with young children so I speak from experience, when I say that this book conveys the feelings and experiences I had so profoundly and gently that it was shocking to me. I was moved by Ms Abdullah's gift for giving life to her characters. I learned that women and widows are the same no matter what their religion or culture. I learned that not all Muslims are terrorists. I knew that children can save you, but was delighted to see that Arissa found that gift. That family can hold you up but can't save you. It was good to know that somebody else unknown to you can have the same experiences and live to tell about it. Please do yourself a favor and read this wonderful book. It will give you insights into how it feels to be a widow of the 9/11 attack.... It is a gorgeous and poetic book with an abundance of truth and beauty for everyone who loves fine literature. Your Bookish Dame
Literary_Marie More than 1 year ago
HOW DO YOU END A STORY THAT'S NOT YOURS? Saffron Dreams is a fiction novel written by Shaila Abdullah, a Pakistani-American author based in Texas. It is an emotional tale of lost love, unexpected twists of fate, and survival. In a span of 41 days, the main character, Arissa Illahi, went from a blissful married life to bleak widowhood, escaping an attack, ostracized by stereotypical people, and the realization of raising an unborn son alone. Arissa lost her husband in the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11. After going through the Ground Zero rubble trying to find limbs that will identify her husband, she is forced to realize he is not coming back. He's gone forever. In going through her husband's belongings she finds a finished manuscript of 65,000 words. She knows it was his dream to be an author and have his book released. After careful thought, Arissa decides to finish it herself. But how do you end a story that's not yours? This book isn't about how wonderful life is. She isn't looking at the world through rose-colored shades. Instead, she shares her struggles and lets the readers know that life truly is full of surprises. I believe this story will help the lives of people who were directly affected by 9/11. It will let them know its okay to grieve for lost ones and they aren't alone. This is one of the few books that took me through many emotions while reading it. At moments I was elated, others I was just as confused as the main character. What new challenges would life bring as the days carry on? The author, Shaila Abdullah, writes such a descriptive depiction of Arissa's emotions that it translates to the reader. I highly recommend this book for people who have suffered from the loss of a loved one. ? L Marie ?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LauraFabiani More than 1 year ago
I was immediately drawn to the beautiful cover of this book. It depicts a veiled Middle Eastern woman with sad eyes shielding her face with her bejewelled arms. How appropriate for this novel about a Pakistani-Muslim woman who loses her husband to the tragic collapse of the World Trade Center. I love novels that are of the multi-cultural genre. And this book is filled with the flavours and traditions of the Middle East. Abdullah's writing is lyrical and poetic, with a sad tone that permeates this story told from the first person point of view of the main character Arissa Illahi. With flashbacks, we come to learn of her childhood and marriage to Faizan, the husband she knew for barely two years. She is pregnant when he dies and her pain is compounded with the knowledge that her unborn baby will have multiple birth defects. The whole story is Arissa's struggle with losses-her mother's lack of love throughout her childhood, her husband's death and his unfinished novel, her child's disabilities, the age-old traditions of her former country, and her lost dreams. Through her eyes we see what she endures as a Muslim woman in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks-the prejudices, the hatred, the misunderstandings, and her guilt for not wanting to return to Pakistan when Faizan wished it. Throughout, she voices her frustration and philosophy about death and God. It was clear to me that although she believed in God, she lacked faith in Him and struggled with this, too. Arissa also makes it her project to finish Faizan's novel, no easy task, even though she is an artist and a writer herself. She keeps her husband alive in her heart and fulfills his dream, making it a lasting legacy. Although this novel received great reviews, I had mixed feelings about it. Overall, it gave me a glimpse into the life of an immigrant Muslim widow in America, mourning her many losses and the decisions she made to cope with them. Sometimes, I had to put the book down and read something else because the sombreness of it was all encompassing. Besides her painful losses, it saddened me that her Muslim faith did not provide comfort or answers regarding death and tragedies. This book also contained mildly explicit sexual scenes and unmarried sex, which I did not expect from a Muslim author.
DarcyO More than 1 year ago
In "Saffron Dreams" author Shaila Abdullah gives voice to Arissa Illahi, a Muslim Pakistani-American who loses her husband Faizan in the terror attack on 9/11. Arissa's story begins in Karachi where she is raised by a loving father and an absentee mother. When Arissa's mother moves out, Arissa must fill the void for her younger siblings. In Karachi, Arissa's family is affluent; her father is a doctor. Arranged marriages are a fact of life in Karachi and for Arissa as well. Arissa tells the story of her marriage to Faizan, their life in New York and his tragic death when the couple are expecting their first child. Hers is a mesmerizing story of love, loss, family, healing and recovery. The book opened my eyes to Pakistani and Muslim customs and how immigrants adjust to life in the United States. In the end, Arissa comes to gripes with herself and her future. I was hoping for a better resolution for Arissa and her mother though. I recommend this novel to those who would like to get a Muslim-American's view of the aftermath of 9/11.
jaimehuff1 More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Writer, Shaila Abdullah, takes you into the life of Arissa Illahi, a Muslim, born into the upper class struggling to find who she is. Abandoned by a mother, who could not find a way to love, hesitant to fall in love herself, until one-day fate intervened. Meeting an aspiring author, over a stack of books, who turned out to the man of her dreams. Marring Faizan, moving to New York, and starting a family, life was starting to come together for Arissa. Unfortunately, a happy ending was not theirs to have, and one fateful day changed their lives forever. On September 11, 2001, Faizan died in the World Trade Centers. Now, a widow, pregnant with a disabled child, and viewed as an outsider in the land that she now calls home. She decidedes to take off her veil but keep her culture. Struggling with the challenges of moving to a new city, starting a new job, and raising a child with multiple disabilities. She has also decided to finish Faizan's novel, breathing life into the characters he created and bring his novel to a close. Slowly, she starts letting go of the anger she held for her mother, and bit by bit letting go of the man he loves. Willing herself to carry on for the amazing gift that Faizan left, their son Raian. Proving that she is intrepid, and will continue on. Vividly written, with the phrasing being as bold as the colors Arissa painted with. I could almost smell the jasmine floating through the air, as I lost myself in a different world. With characters as spicy and flavorful as curry, you could not help but to fall in love with each and everyone of them, It was as if you were with Arissa on the emotional rollercoaster that became her life, and felt the strength she finally find. I was elated at every milestone that Raian accomplished and found myself hoping for another, Abdullah has offered readers an inside look into the Muslim culture, and blended it perfectly with the American. "Saffron Dreams" is an ingenious work of art that captures the raw emotions of love, loss, the path of letting go and the one that leads to self discovery. Abdullah wrote that, "presentation, is the key to leaving a lasting impression". With this book she has accomplished that goal with the beautifully written way in which she tugs at your heartstrings. This will defiantly be a book I will remember. Truly a book that should be on every must read list
ccqdesigns More than 1 year ago
This year I decided to read mostly foreign authors and multicultural themed books and this week's selection was a fiction novel, Saffron Dreams by Shaila Abdullah. This book looks at the treatment and lives of Muslims in America after 9/11. Arissa and Faizan married in Pakistan in a traditional Muslim wedding and were the love of each other's lives from the beginning. They moved to New York where Faizan worked as a waiter while secretly writing his first novel. After two years of marriage, Arissa finally became pregnant and they were both excited about their first visit to the doctor for an ultrasound. Then, 9/11 happened and Faizan never made it home. "That's how God made us, in pairs so we complete each other. And then he snatches one away, I thought, and makes us dispensable mortals. Alone we come, and solo our return." Pg.101 Shaila Abdullah gives us a clear picture of what it was like to be Muslim and a widow in America after 9/11 through the story of one courageous woman who faces raising a child alone and the possibility of finishing her husband's novel. She addresses the balancing of cultural traditions with American realities and her writing flows like a river from the first paragraph to the last sentence. Ms. Abdullah provides an accurate and insightful story of love, loss, fear, anger, and finding the strength to survive. This book is a must read for everyone and can provide understanding for those with little experience with other cultures. Luckily I have had the great pleasure to experience many different cultures, religions, foods and customs and met many wonderful people while traveling and working internationally. I have found many women indicative of the values that Arissa displays in this novel which made this book very personal and identifiable to me. I give this book a big "thumbs up" and can't wait to read the next novel by Shaila Abdullah.
johnnycat15 More than 1 year ago
"Saffron Dreams" by Shaila Abdullah is an eloquently written and moving story of a Muslim woman living in America, whose world is turned upside down on September 11th. Arissa Illahi is a Muslim artist and writer living in New York City with her husband Faizan. Expecting their first child, they are happy with life. But on the morning of September 11, 2001, Faizan would go to work in the World Trade Center...and never return. Always free to live as a Muslim in America, after the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Great American Melting Pot doesn't seem to blend so well. People who greeted Arissa with a smile before that fateful day, barely look at her. Feeling adrift after her loss, Arissa wanders through the days awaiting the birth of her unborn son, a son Faizan would never hold. The discovery of her husband's unfinished manuscript may be the key to her survival. And perhaps by finishing Faizan's legacy, Arissa will redeem a race. If ever there was a book more eloquently written than "Saffron Dreams", I would like to see it. The words simply fly off the page and float into your consciousness; their power touching you in a way like no other book might ever touch you again. The struggles of being a 9/11 widow and a Muslim, come together in a moving story that will find you filled with every emotion ever experienced by a human being. Abdullah's masterful storytelling draws you in from the very first moment and does not release you until you've turned the very last page. Anyone who has ever loved and lost will be touched by this heartrending, yet triumphant story of one woman's difficult journey to pick up the pieces of her shattered life in a country that has suddenly put her and an entire race under a microscope in order to make sense of a monumental tragedy. The descriptions and details put you right alongside Arissa so that you are totally captivated by her world, her dreams, her struggles, and her triumphs. "Saffron Dreams" is destined to add more awards to Abdullah's portfolio. This is a must read book for 2009!
VioletCrush More than 1 year ago
Arissa is born in an affluent family in Pakistan. She moves to New York when she marries Faizan who works in a restaurant in the World Trade Center. Arissa is very happy with her life, her husband and their future prospects. Also, she is 2 months pregnant. On 11th September 2001, with the attack on the world Trade Center, her whole world came crashing down along with the towers. Faizan is dead and the last rituals are performed without a body, her baby is deformed in her womb and will probably never live a full life. Arissa's friends and in-laws help her move on. But she is alone and scared, scared of living her life without a companion and scared to raise a child with disabilities. As Arissa is managing to live life each day, she is confronted with another dilemma, her religion. After 9/11, the way Muslims were viewed changed drastically. The horror of Terrorism reached people who never thought something like this would happen to them. The targets were the innocent Muslims. As Arissa tells someone, "When you put all your potatoes in a sack, you should know they all have unique flavors. Some are rotten, some fresh. Just because they are clumped together doesn't make then all the same." . "They are not my people, but I don't think you are smart enough to figure that out." Saffron Dreams is a journey of a young widow away from her homeland and in a country she has adopted. It's a delicate subject and a book that handles a lot of sensitive issues without wanting to create a sensation. The writing was so raw and honest that I could feel Arissa's pain seeping through the pages. I did struggle through this book as I found it a little difficult to read, I even had tears in my eyes a couple of times, but the author's simplistic and crisp writing style and Arissa's struggle to find some hope in her chaotic life kept me reading and rooting for her. In the end, this book is not about 9/11, her husbands death, her child's disabilities or even her religion. It's about what binds us together even though we are from different homelands and different cultural backgrounds, which I believe is the crux of this book. Though not easy, it's definitely something that deserves to be read. Here are some of my favorite passage: Why was there no fear in my heart? Probably because there was no more room in my heart for terror. When horror comes face-to-face with you and causes a loved one's death, fear leaves your heart. In it's place, merciful God places pain. Throbbing, pulsating, oozing pus, a wound that stays fresh and raw no matter how carefully you treat it. How can you be afraid when you have no one to be fearful for? The safety of your loved ones is what breads fear in your heart. They are the weak links in your life. Unraveled from them, you are fearless. You can dangle by a thread, hang from the rooftop. Bungee jump, skydive, walk a pole, hold your hand over the flame of a candle. Burnt, scalded, crashed, lost, dead, the only loss would be to your own self. Certain things you are not allowed to say or do. Defiant as I am, I say and do them anyway. Rating: 4.5 rounded to 5 stars.
Tyler_TichelaarTT More than 1 year ago
Shaila Abdullah¿s ¿Saffron Dreams¿ is a moving, sensitive and eye-opening novel about Arissa Ilahi, a young Pakistani woman living in New York City, who loses her husband in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Towers. While the novel has scenes in Pakistan prior to the 9/11 attacks, the focus of the novel is Arissa grieving for her lost husband, Faizan, her efforts to get her life back together in a country whose people are becoming intolerant and prejudiced against Muslims, and being a single mother to a newborn son with multiple disabilities. Along the way, Arissa learns to find support in loved ones, especially her in-laws, and to sever dysfunctional relationships, even with family members. Despite many difficult decisions she must make for the independence of herself and her son, Arissa remains strong and hopeful.

The September 11th attacks are wounds still healing in the United States. Readers of ¿Saffron Dreams¿ will better understand the grief experienced by those who lost loved ones during that critical time. The novel also offers insights into Islamic, particularly Pakistani, culture and the difficulties faced by immigrants to the United States in their efforts to assimilate yet retain parts of their culture. As Arissa notes in the novel, immigrants come to love both lands as their own.

¿Saffron Dreams¿ is as American a novel as any written because the immigrant experience is an integral part of the American story. The novel is part of Modern History Press¿s ¿Reflections of America¿ series, and its young female Pakistani narrator provides a unique perspective on how Americans are still trying to cope with and interpret the events of September 11th and the wars that have followed. While the story is not as full of dramatic conflict as other recent Middle-Eastern immigrant novels such as ¿The Kite Runner,¿ the internal conflict of Arissa is just as moving and perhaps more meaningful to readers who will see in Arissa someone not so unlike them, someone who simply wants a better life for herself and her child.

At the background of the novel is the theme of the value and importance of each human life. Arissa is determined to carry on her husband¿s legacy, to make sure his life is remembered and valued. At the urging of her mother-in-law, she decides to complete her husband¿s novel, ¿Soul Searcher.¿ Equally, Arissa makes the decision to give birth and raise her child despite his disabilities. Through it all, she learns to value her own life, not allowing prospective lovers, dysfunctional family members, or Pakistani and American culture to control or define her future or identity. Arissa¿s story shows the individual importance and value of each person. Her voice is so distinct the reader is surprised to recall that ¿Saffron Dreams¿ is a novel rather than a personal memoir.

¿Saffron Dreams¿ captures the tone and emotions of the early twenty-first century, while leaving the reader much to think about in terms of what it means to be an American, what the future of America may be, and the hope that exists in future generations. Abdullah¿s writing offers a new and intriguing perspective on the American experience, one I hope to continue enjoying in future novels from her.

¿ Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D. and author of ¿The Marquette Trilogy¿
Anonymous More than 1 year ago