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The Things We See in the Light (Amal Awad, Pantera Press)

This book opens with Sahar arriving on her best friend Lara’s doorstep in Newtown, and it’s apparent Sahar has changed a lot since Lara last saw her. Once a shy, conservative, deeply religious girl who left Sydney to marry in Jordan, Sahar now dresses with more flair and has uncovered her hair but remains quiet and pulls away from her friends. Sahar slowly unspools the story of what made her leave Jordan and her husband, the event that is also causing her to re-evaluate her life and her faith. Meanwhile she gets a job at a patisserie and chocolate shop, where her gift for creating flavours gradually opens her up to her co-workers, as well as to new experiences and points of view. The Things We See in the Light is as warm and enveloping as the rich chocolate and hot Turkish coffee that suffuse it. Author Amal Awad lovingly describes the ingredients and flavours Sahar weaves together, giving the book an almost tangible grounding. However, while warm and charming, it is not twee or entirely lighthearted, touching on issues such as miscarriage and trauma and on questions of life and faith. In the tradition of great women’s fiction writers such as Monica McInerney and Deborah Rodriguez, The Things We See in the Light is heartwarming and compelling. Sahar will pull you in with her story of growth, empowerment and new friendship, including a touch of romance.

Fay Helfenbaum is a freelance writer and editor and was a bookseller for five years.


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