Monday, May 11, 2009

Mohamed's Moon

I've heard it said that we in the US live in a Christian culture--in a society where the basic values espoused by Christianity (and yes, there is disagreement about exactly what they are) are the basic values of our culture (and yes, I know there are those who say we are losing this). If this novel, Mohamed's Moon is to be believed; then I'm glad we are in a Christian culture for reasons that have little to do with actual faith.

Mohamed's Moon is about identical twin brothers who were separated at birth. Their mother was a recent convert to Christianity from Islam. She and her husband were poor Egyptians, but her husband's brother, who had no children, was wealthy. When she unexpectedly gave birth to twins and mentioned to the Christian midwife that they couldn't afford one baby, much less two, and that she was afraid her husband would give one to his brother, the midwife agrees to adopt the baby. They end up in the US, where he is raised as Matthew. The other brother is raised in Egypt and after his father is killed as a suicide bomber, he is adopted by his rich uncle. He is raised to be a terrorist and sent to the US to take part in a major act. Both brothers play soccer and run into each other at a soccer game. They also discover that Matthew is dating a Christian girl with whom Mohamed grew up, and who he loves.

The story has elements of a thriller, since Mohamed is in the US to take part in a terrorist act. What is it? Will he go through with it? Will it be successful? It has elements of a romance. Will Layla choose Matthew or Mohamed? It has definite religious aspects. Layla is a Christian and she told Mohamed when they were kids that she would only marry another Christian. Mohamed tries to find out about Christianity so he can convince Layla that Islam is right, so there is a definite religious element to the book--and the brand of Christianity about which he learns is the generic Evangelical megachurch.

I recently read The Blood of Lambs (click to read my review), the memoir of an ex-terrorist turned Christian. If he is to be believed, then Keith Clemons has done his homework with this book. Both talk of hate being drilled into these kids from an early age. Both speak of the poor being give the high mortality jobs in the terrorist groups. Both speak of the low status of women. Both speak of lack of freedom -- that it is better, in their opinion, for people to adopt Islam because they are forced, than for them not to adopt it at all, which is a far cry from the Christian ideal of choosing to believe.

I enjoyed the book. I'm not sure if it is "thriller" enough to appeal to those who want that and can live without the love story. The religious aspects of the story are well integrated, but perhaps a little unrealistic, perhaps because of the limited time within which the story takes place. If you read this, I'd love to know what you think.

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