Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Review: Some Dream for Fools by Faiza Guene

Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Jun 3 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0151014205
ISBN-13: 978-0151014200

From the Publisher;

Ahleme, a young woman living on the outskirts of Paris, is trying to make a life out of the dreams she brought with her from Algeria and the reality she faces every day. Her father lost his job after an accident at his construction site. Her mother was lost to a massacre in Algeria. And her brother, Foued, boils with adolescent energy and teeters dangerously close to choosing a life of crime.

As she wanders the streets of Paris looking for work, Ahleme negotiates the disparities between her dreams and her life, her youth and her responsibilities, the expectations of those back home and the limitations of life in France.

I will admit, I had never heard of Faiza Guene before or her first book, Kiffe, Kiffe Tomorrow, though I'm very glad to have discovered her now!

Some Dream for Fools is an interesting mix of Algerian, French and American cultural and linguistic references (and I'm sure a bit of British was mixed in there too). From mentions of TV programmes to the day to day life dealings in the poorer side of Paris, the melange makes for interesting reading. To help the reader along, there was a useful glossary of the Algerian words used throughout. This made quite a difference in understanding the nuances of what the main character was referring to at times.

There is also an element of universal appeal to the story. Through Ahleme, we see the emotional side of the struggles that low income, working class people must endure to survive. This is a problem no matter where you live. Ms. Guene gives Ahleme's personality a tough as nails exterior while allowing her inner, humourous side to also shine. This gives her the smarts as well as the comic relief that will ensure her survival. Ahleme's insights are all too often on the money.

At times, I wondered if Some Dream for Fools was an autobiographical novel, though it is not advertised as such. Ahleme's experiences feel very real, as though the author has sat in a cafe, making up stories and giving fake names to make herself more interesting. Or, had to line up at 4 o'clock in the morning to have her permits renewed, to allow her to stay in France.

Some Dream for Fools is a witty story with elements of sadness that truly reflect life in all of it's ups and downs, regardless of where you live or how much you earn. It is a short book but very much well worth the read, if different cultures interest you.


Christine said...

Hi Jackie, something about the cover art of this book is very alluring to me. After reading your review, I'm even more compelled to read it. I'm going to look for this one at my library. Thanks for the review.

Jackie said...

Thanks, Christine. The cover's even better when it's in your hands, lol. I hope you find it & enjoy it!

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