A Pure Heart

Viking. Aug. 2019. 320p. notes. ISBN 9780525560050. $27;.
When her sister Gameela is killed in a terrorist bombing in Cairo, New York–based Rose tries to put together the pieces to figure out how it happened. She feels anger at husband Mark, an American journalist, who interviewed the bomber before the attack, and wrestles with her own guilt about indirectly connecting Mark with her sister’s killer and for the distance between herself and Gameela in the years preceding the event. An archaeologist by trade, Rose gathers artifacts that she hopes will provide her with answers and uncovers a chain of secrets about her sister’s life. Hassib (In the Language of Miracles) draws an intimate portrait of contemporary Egypt, deftly explaining the complexity of political viewpoints regarding the revolution and postrevolutionary years. Through her characters, she shows the subtle differences in class, culture, and religious belief that can cause fractures in families, marriages, and societies. Gameela clashes with her upper-middle-class parents over her more conservative view of Islam and her choice of suitor, while Rose and Mark disagree over what Rose views as his simplistic view of Egypt’s political situation.
VERDICT Giving a voice to everyone, even the bomber, Hassib displays empathy and compassion steeped in a deep knowledge of her subject. Recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 2/4/19.]

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.

Get access to 8000+ annual reviews of books, ebooks, and more

As low as $13.50/month