Sirens of Memory
by Puja Guha

"She stared straight ahead and fought to get control of her breathing. Maybe Raj is right, she thought, I can’t pretend that part of my life doesn’t exist anymore. Suppressing it just lets it come back stronger."

Nearly three decades after waking in a hospital after a brutal beating by her then-husband Tareq, Mariam begins attending therapy sessions in an effort to confront her past. As she navigates her current marriage through rocks of emotional onslaught with which her past has left her, Mariam accepts an invitation from her cousin Dinah to an event honoring the 25th anniversary of the Liberation of Kuwait. Little does Mariam realize how attending this event years after she left a Kuwaiti refugee camp and began a prosperous new life with her husband and daughter in the United States will affect her and her loved ones. It throws her and her family into a pit of emotional, physical terror. Once again, Mariam finds the strength to stand against violence and protect not only herself but also the friends and family to whom she owes her newly formed life.

In crisp prose, the author's book examines cycles of violence that permeate not only personal histories but also the pasts of nations. Against the backdrop of the Gulf War and its consequences on the Kuwaiti people liberated from Iraqi control, this book portrays one woman's battle to overcome her emotional, mental, and physically abusive past. When that past reemerges, and Mariam must fully reckon with it, the book becomes a psychological narrative of the inner strength that abuse victims summon to survive haunting circumstances ingrained not only in themselves but also their families. In its many discussions about trauma, this book offers a necessary discussion about the personal, social, and cultural attitudes regarding escape and recovery with which readers of all backgrounds can engage. Possessing the awareness of novels such as Speak and the boldness of Not Without My Daughter, this book becomes an exciting read that reminds readers that although the past is a significant contributor to identity, it is not one's all-defining component.

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