Review of Chronicle of a Last Summer: A Novel of Egypt by Yasmine El Rashidi

When I first received this book from the Blogging for Books program earlier this summer, I was so ready to immerse myself in the history of a country I know very little about. I had high hopes of forming a greater understanding of the current conflicts in Egypt, told through a fictional lens. However, despite numerous attempts to finish this book, I honestly couldn’t get past the 60 page mark. Below is a portion of the Goodreads synopsis followed by my review:

Goodreads Summary:

Cairo, 1984. A blisteringly hot summer. A young girl in a sprawling family house. Her days pass quietly: listening to a mother’s phone conversations, looking at the Nile from a bedroom window, watching the three state-sanctioned TV stations with the volume off, daydreaming about other lives. Underlying this claustrophobic routine is mystery and loss. Relatives mutter darkly about the newly-appointed President Mubarak. Everyone talks with melancholy about the past. People disappear overnight. Her own father has left, too—why, or to where, no one will say.

Review:

Part of what drew me to this novel, initially, was the idea of following the main character across three decades. However, I quickly became quite frustrated with this structure because I found it particularly challenging to get a sense of an unfamiliar country in an era that was before my time when it was being told to me from the perspective of a six year old. Furthermore, the protagonist’s parents worked very hard to shield her from the hardships their family was experiencing so I felt as though I, too, was being shielded from pertinent information necessary to understanding the state of Egypt during this time. This ultimately prevented me from empathizing with what the protagonist was experiencing and thus made it impossible for me to get through this entire novel.

I think what would have made this a stronger novel would be starting the novel in a time when then protagonist was older and then flashing back to her six year old self. This would have allowed the reader to have some concept of the state of Egypt and who the main character is prior to diving in to all that she’s been through. I apologize for the brevity of this review, however I felt it was important to share my thoughts on novels that I really struggled to get through to balance out my reviews of books that I absolutely fell in love with. Let me know in the comments below your thoughts on Chronicle of a Last Summer if you’ve had a chance to read it!

1 out of 5 stars 

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**I received this book for free from the Blogging For Books Program in exchange for an honest review**

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