One of my favorite aspects of reading international fiction is being able to immerse myself in the culture that the author is presenting – in this case modern Morocco. Author Lalami writes with such immediacy and passion that it’s easy to get drawn into Youssef’s story. As is often the case with sagas involving family secrets, selfishness and a lamentable lack of communication shape the characters’ destinies.
As I’ve told a couple of friends since reading this, it seems that Lalami already had an ending in mind and then fashioned a narrative that would lead to that end. I can understand why Lalami would want to tell a story with the type of ending she has chosen, but she put so much effort into Youssef’s character that this ending ends up feeling like a cop-out and not the inevitable one she may have been going for. SPOILER: (Roll over the following text with your mouse to read) The ending has strong similarities to the Jeff Bridges/Tom Robbins movie Arlington Road – but the movie’s ending was better set-up and just better. I guess if you haven't seem the movie, this isn't much of a spoiler, but if you have, you know what I am talking about.
SECRET SON is available in hardcover now. Find out more about the book (and watch the trailer) at the author's website.