Sunday, March 24, 2013

Almost a Turkish Soap Opera by Anne-Rae Vasquez

So, I have had this review in draft form for a couple weeks now, because it was so difficult for me to properly review this book. I didn't want to be overly critical or complementary of something based on my own subjective tastes and interests. I rarely read out of my comfort zone, which is something I've tried working on to expand my horizons and so I could expose myself to different types/genres of writing that I would almost never pick up otherwise. And this story certainly takes me away from my standard literary fare, and deserved a more objective review than I would have written right after I finished reading it. Almost a Turkish Soap Opera is precisely what the title intimates, and while I was very entertained by the plot I was not so much a fan of the layout of the novel. This story was written as a screenplay, and reads just as a television show summary would. Almost a Turkish Soap Opera is a fascinating look into the Turkish culture in today's society, and is worthy of the 4 out of 5 stars I'm giving to it.

From the publisher:
Almost a Turkish Soap Opera is a story about Adel,a young Turkish man whose family has lived in poverty while his grand uncle controls the inheritance money which rightfully belongs to his father. Adel travels to the USA with his best friend Kamil, works illegally, and is deported back to Istanbul. He flies to Canada, marries his rich grand uncle's spoiled obnoxious granddaughter in exchange for his permanent resident status. He becomes infatuated with his beautiful English teacher and tries to hide this from his wife. How did his life turn into a Turkish soap opera?

The novel paints a vivid portrayal of the lives and struggles of young modern Muslim adults trying to make a life in the West. The story will attract audiences of popular contemporary movies such as the Kite Runner and the Brick Lane. A published author, Anne-Rae Vasquez, wrote the novel, Almost a Turkish Soap Opera (to be released in 2012), Gathering Dust, a collection of poems, and Teach Yourself Great Web Design in a Week, published by (a division of Macmillan Publishing).

My thoughts:
As I stated above, I was not a fan of the layout. Screenplays are difficult to read because it's essentially just a play by play of what would be happening in the show/movie. There is little in the way of inner dialogue and conflict; most of the writing is devoted to the actions and what the characters are doing. I need inner conflict! I need to hear more of what's going on in Adel's mind, and what he's thinking about throughout his dramatic time in America and Canada. He's got a very interesting inner dialogue, based on what Vasquez did put in her story. I could definitely see this on TV, though, kind of a dramatic Turkish "Days of Our Lives" or something else (I only know that show because my mother used to watch it)  :P

Although I would have preferred to see a 'standard' novel version of this story, the plot and the characters are a lot of fun. The plot is interesting, easy to follow, and fun to read, and offers a lot of insight into the lives of modern Muslim families. Adel and Kamil are likable characters, and I had a good time reading a story where I had to really extrapolate to picture myself in their shoes (particularly since I am not Muslim, and won't really have to worry about having an arranged, loveless marriage). I would definitely feel the same way though, and fight with my family to be able to pave my own way through life, and marry who I choose, rather than who my family decides I should marry.

All in all, while this wasn't something I normally sink my teeth into, I'm glad I did and I definitely recommend it for anyone who regularly watches/reads soap opera types of stories, or who's looking to try something new and exciting. Who knows, you might learn something new, or just find a new genre you enjoy!

- Justin

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