Dear Reader

Random musings on reading and books from a librarian in training.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Harbor -- Lorraine Adams

Ah the magic of T-Mobile Hot Spots, not free... but INTERNET! I finished reading Harbor by Lorraine Adams on my first day of vacation. The library book group read this last year and I wish I had read it with them. It's definitely a book that I'd like to hear other people's thoughts on.
Aziz smuggles aboard a tanker and illegally enters the country. He's fleeing his home in Algeria, where he was a solider. I was a little unclear on this part, but he apparently was a double agent in the Army.
He falls in with Rafik, someone he knows from Algeria. His brother legally immigrates and they are also joined by several fellow Algerians who also snuck into the US on tankers.

The novel follows Aziz as he struggles to fit in, his flashbacks to his time in the Army – a brutal, terrifying experience. While Rafik is clearly involved in illegal activities – credit card fraud, identity theft, smuggling – Aziz and his friend Ghazia are not. Yet, they end up getting caught in the net when Rafik and his friend Kamal come under suspicion.

This novel raises several troubling questions:

How can we effectively combat terrorism, if we don’t understand the language and culture?

How much do we know about other cultures/ places like Algeria?

Can we even accurately identify the real terrorists versus people desperately looking for a better life and trying to stay hidden from scrutiny.

To what extent has involvement by the US and other countries like France created atmospheres of chaos, violence and ultimately resentment/ hatred against Western and US governments?

The nature of good and evil?

Clearly, Aziz is conflicted about the things he did in the Army. However, he did those things to survive.

Overall, a fascinating but at the same time unsettling book.

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