Giveaway & Beyond Borders #ArmchairBEA


Currently, we do not have a giveaway running. However, there is a HUGE announcement scheduled for this Saturday, May 31st. Hopefully, you will remember to come back!

Hint: It involves mustaches and Sherlock Holmes. Well, kinda.

Beyond Borders

The most recent culturally diverse book I read was The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker.

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master, the husband who commissioned her, dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York in 1899.

Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop. Though he is no longer imprisoned, Ahmad is not entirely free – an unbreakable band of iron binds him to the physical world.

The Golem and the Jinni is their magical, unforgettable story; unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures – until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful threat will soon bring Chava and Ahmad together again, challenging their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.

If you haven't read this yet, be advised that the following contains spoilers.

I found the blend of diverse lore, religion and cultures intriguing. The character development was seamless.

I had the recurring thought of nature versus nurture repeatedly throughout. Their origin stories were similar as they both just became to be yet in different ways. Each were elemental, one earth and the other fire. One longed to be free while the other longed to be mastered. The golem craved sameness while the jinni placed higher value on diversity. These wants waned drastically by the end, and they both learned to appreciate humanity.

I think everyone can relate to both characters in one way or another. If I had a magical power, it certainly would NOT be to read minds. I found the inner struggle of the golem extremely fascinating. She constantly had to fight the urge to please those around her.

Arbeely first keeps the jinni's secret out of fear, which then turns to more selfish desires for success. The rabbi chose to see good in the golem and believed that she could become more than just a slave set to task. I think that he genuinely enjoyed her companionship.

Saleh was probably my favorite. Maryam and Anna were annoying but served their purpose, nonetheless. I sympathized with Sophia and Michael due to their unrequited love. Matthew especially tugged at my heart strings.

Everyone chooses their shackles. They can be made of religion or tradition or simply the indignation of submitting to neither. Change comes whether we embrace it or not. I believe that there can be a balance of faith and tolerance. Chava and Ahmad both struggle against their natures to adapt to the world as it changes around them and learn to nurture the changes within themselves.

Schaalman, known by so many other names, was driven primarily by vanity and the search for eternal life. He deemed his intelligence superior, and his arrogance was palpable. Not to mention, he was just creepy! He lived so many lives yet appeared to never really live life fully because of his obsessions. You wonder, in the end, if he ever really had a choice. I think that he did; we all do. He chose evil.

There are a plethora of parallels in this book. The story itself is virtually timeless. Obviously, Chava and Ahmad will be reunited. However, Schaalman's vision of another new life suckling from a clay breast still haunts me! Did you guys miss that? Blech.