Book Review: WHEN THE APRICOTS BLOOM (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️) by @author_gina_wilkinson
Genre: Historical Fiction
Set in Baghdad, Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s rule, the lives of three women—two Iraqi, Huda and Rania, and one Australian/American, Ally—become dangerously entangled. Why had Ally’s mom (who died when Ally was only 5 years old) spent time in Baghdad in her youth, and what secrets was she hiding? How does Ally’s search for information about her mom also draw unwanted attention from the regime to Huda and Rania? Will the three women betray each other’s trust to help the regime, or remain steadfast and loyal in their friendship?
“If we stay loyal to each other, if we trust each other, then maybe we change the patterns of the past.”
Based on the author’s own experience living in Iraq during this time, When the Apricots Bloom was powerful and intense, and I cannot imagine living in 2002 Baghdad, let alone as a woman. Imagine not being able to speak your mind freely because your every move is under surveillance and even your home and cars may be bugged. Now also imagine being forced to divulge your neighbors’ secrets or face violent consequences from the regime.
“[Ally] thought she was the one with secrets, but she’s begun to realize everyone had secrets here, enough to drown in.”
This was certainly a brutal time and country in which to be born, and this touching debut is one I won’t soon forget.
“The great poet Rumi said sorrow sweeps everything out of your house violently so that joy has space to enter.”
Location: 2002 Baghdad, Iraq
I received an advance copy of this book from BookishFirst. All opinions are my own.