This device could be distancing, but in Forna's capable hands it works, bringing us slowly into stories that might otherwise be too horrific to digest. Her subtle approach, with narrative building on narrative, also highlights the issues underlying the trauma — how the former child soldier who can no longer stand the smell of cooked meat may be more sympathetic than the selfish civilian who acted out of fear and ambition. In the end, free will is not the given that it would be in Europe, and often the best choice, Forna's characters — and specifically the naive Adrian — learn again and again, is quiet perseverance. Responsibility, whether for a spouse or lover or a neglected little boy, is the only path to redemption. And regret is simply another side of love.
AMINATTA FORNA | Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St, Brookline | February 3 at 7 pm | 617.566.6660
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