Norwegian title: Skyggedanseren
Hello book friends!
I have been MIA for a little while and the reason is that my life all of a sudden exploded! Not literally but almost, haha. First I delivered my final exam for this semester last Thursday, then on Friday my boyfriend PROPOSED, then the same weekend we attended a family gathering before I started my internship this Monday. I mean, my brain has literally been toast ever since my boyfriend went down on one knee last Friday. Landing has been taking some time but I’m slowly approaching Earth haha.
Now Sara Omar’s brilliant book! I’ve just finished the second book about Frmesk and it was another very thought provoking and tough book to read. I have so many thoughts I don’t even know where to start! Sara Omar has managed to write a follow up book which is just as good as the first one if not even better. The synopsis is borrowed from Goodreads and translated by me:
Kurdistan, 1994: Frmesk doesn’t talk and eat anymore. She draws disturbing drawings and destroys her dolls. Her grandparents, Gawhar and Darwésh, is fighting to gain some of Frmesks happiness back. Gawhar seeks refuge within her faith and sends Frmesk to Quran readings in their mosque where Frmesks uncle, Muhammad works as an imam. Frmesk is unaware of the abuse that’s in store for her. Darwésh meanwhile has taken up the fight for women’s rights in the village. He opens up a hamam kun for women and hope that the safe and heartwarming environment within it can guide Frmesk back towards happiness and the light.
Denmark, 2017: Frmesk keeps to herself while at the university. Even though she doesn’t want to upset her father she still defies him and goes outside without covering her head, and she writes critical articles and poems about women’s rights. Whilst at home she cleans the apartment, cooks and looks after her younger siblings. Her mother, Rubar, spends the day on the couch watching TV-series from the Middle East. Fremesks parents are now divorced but her father, Anwar, appears in their apartment every day and rules the family with an iron fist. According to him poems written by women are vulgar and when he discovers that Frmesk has been writing them in secret in order to sort out her confined thoughts the violence escalates. Frmesk sees no other option but to seek out freedom in yet another country.
In Shadow Dancer we meet Frmesk again. She’s barely eating and not talking at all. The shadows cast from the end of the previous book shows itself in true strength in this follow-up, and what a follow-up it is! I got my wish from my review of the first book, and the feeling that something more is going to happen still lingers with me. In this book we learn more about Frmesk when she’s older and tries to navigate a modern world whilst also keeping to her religious beliefs and her family’s expectations for her. I think this is a very relevant topic which is in no doubt why Sara Omar has written about it in Shadow Dancer. Again I learned quite a lot from Sara Omar’s book. It was quite interesting to follow Frmesk as she grew and at the same time see how the expectations towards her changed. I feel that we ‘lose’ her a little bit for some parts of the book but I think that’s a good technique from Sara Omar’s standpoint to show us as readers that Frmesk is somewhat loosing herself. Reading about how Frmesk uses her voice in secret to write poetry, and express her views on women’s rights was very interesting! This is definitely a topic that is more central in this book than in the previous one.
I think that Frmesks development in this book is rather extraordinary in many aspects. To me Frmesk portrays the core ideas a young person can contain. She wants an education, to see the world, join her peers, be of value to her family, and protect her siblings. Sara Omar shows us this development through different angels and sometimes the development is obvious whilst at other times its more hidden. My favorite developmentmoment is definetley at the end of the book but I’m not gonna tell you because that would ruin one of the BEST moments in this story! I hope we get more books about Frmesk so I can continue to follow this development.
I appreciate that we get to know Darwésh better in this book. What a couple of grand parents Frmesk has! I would love to have a chat with that man! Pick his brain on ideas and thoughts. Makes you wonder why more people around the globe isn’t like him. Speaking of men I believe that Sara Omar portrays very different types of men in this book, both good and bad. In the last book I felt that this was more focused around the women. You have Darwésh who is obviously a good person, and you have Frmesk’s uncle who’s a policeman. Then you have Anwar, Frmesk’s father, Muhammad, her uncle, and later on we get to know Bahzad. Again I believe that Sara Omar chooses her focus very wisely. She shows the good and the bad in contrast of each other and I think this contributes to familiarize Frmesk’s world to the readers.
Sara Omar has kept her incredibly high standard of writing, usage of language, and the mix of beauty and horror when it comes to religion. Yet again, I feel that Sara Omar is able to show us how beautiful a religion can be in the right hands whilst it can also be something horrific in the wrong hands. This last part leaves strong marks in this book especially and I’m horrified that some people can justify the things that happens to Frmesk. Just when I thought she, Frmesk, was experiencing something good she’s pulled back into the darkness that seems to continuously haunt her. It shouldn’t be possible that so many bad things can happen to such a sweet person! There was a few times during this book where I had to stop and process what I read because I found it hard to both believe and understand even the words were straight there on the page…
Shadow Dancer is a strong follow up to Dead Washer. Sara Omar has improved her writing even further which makes the book a joy to read even with its difficult, important, and thought provoking content. This is another important and educational book you should read! I highly recommend reading them in order to gain the full perspective and powerful reading experience that Sara Omar’s book are. A must-read for 2020!
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Theme: Religion, Islam, women’s rights
– The Book Reader