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A Novel

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


Inspired by the story of John Walker Lindh, the “American Taliban,” Whiting Award–winning author John Wray explores the circumstances that could impel a young American to abandon identity and home to become an Islamist militant.

Like many other eighteen-year-olds, Aden Sawyer is intently focused on a goal: escape from her hometown. Her plan will take her far from her mother’s claustrophobic house, where the family photos have all been turned to face the wall; far from the influence of her domineering father—a professor of Islamic studies—and his new wife.

Aden’s dream, however, is worlds removed from conventional fantasies of teen rebellion: she is determined to travel to Peshawar, Pakistan, to study Islam at a madrasa. To do so, she takes on a new identity, disguising herself as a young man named Suleyman. Aden fully commits to this new life, even burning her passport to protect her secret. But once she is on the ground, she finds herself in greater danger than she could possibly have imagined. Faced with violence, disillusionment, and loss, Aden must make choices that will test not only her faith but also her most fundamental understanding of who she is, and that will set her on a wild, fateful course toward redemption by blood. John Wray’s Godsend is a coming-of-age novel like no other.

From Publishers Weekly

Aug 13, 2018 – Wray (The Lost Time Accidents) undermines his promising premise a young American woman joining the Taliban in 2001 with a detached style. Eighteen-year-old Aden Grace Sawyer spitefully leaves her philandering Islamic Studies professor father and nonfunctional mother in Santa Rosa, Calif., to develop her new faith at a madrassa near the Afghanistan border in the summer of 2001. She disguises herself as a young man, assumes the name of Suleyman, and extracts a begrudging promise of secrecy from her travelling companion, Decker. Aden sneaks into the mountain training camp across the border after Taliban commander Ziar Khan recruits only tough-talking Decker. She quickly proves her aptitude for combat but struggles with the leaders' callous indifference and rapid executions over minor missteps. Despite drawing attention to herself with impertinent questions, Aden oddly escapes punishment, convince the leaders she is a boy, and is deployed with a multinational group of zealous fighters. The attacks of 9/11 open her up to deeper scrutiny as an American, as the narrative tumbles to a rapid, unsettled conclusion. Wray provides only delayed, incomplete descriptions of the story's traumatic events; his skimming past powerful emotions will keep readers from developing strong connections to his characters. Nevertheless, Wray communicates a disturbing image of disaffected youth and the lures of extremism.
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  • $13.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Oct 09, 2018
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Seller: Macmillan
  • Print Length: 240 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.5 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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