Set in Turkey, in 1999, the year the earthquake struck, this story follows the fortunes of two families whose fates become entangled. Sinan and Nilufer are conservative, Kurdish Muslims from a rural background who are attempting to bring up their two children, Irem and her young brother, Ismail, along strictly tradional lines. Marcus and Sarah and their son, Dylan, are Americans living and working in Turkey. Sinan has a profound mistrust of Americans who he accuses of aiding Turkey in the suppression of Kurds and their fight to establish a Kurdish homeland, so when the earthquake binds him to Marcus in ties of obligation, their relationship becomes even more scratchy. Several strands weave through this novel: the role of women in Kurdish Moslem society, the clash of cultures - conservative Moslem with twentieth century American, the clash of Moslem with Christian values, the position of minority Kurds living in Turkey, the stress of lives lived in refugee camps and the stresses of all these upon young people caught up in them, all combine to create a devastating scenario in which personal relationships are stretched to snapping point. Alan Drew draws his characters in depth and the reader, powerfully pulled into their emotions, will find it difficult to decide where the fine dividing lines between right and wrong lie. The novel also sounds warning bells about the dangers inherent in tampering with the belief systems of others and also of intolerant prejudice which blinds individuals to acts of kindness.
This is a powerful novel that raises many questions: it is for the reader to ponder the answers.