I apologize that this post is going up a day later than scheduled. Thank you so much to Emma with Damp Pebbles Blog Tours for having me on this tour. See the schedule above for the other hosts to follow and support.
At the Feet of Mothers
by Adnan Mahmutovic
Publisher: Cinnamon Press
Release Date: May 4, 2020
Genre: Adult Fiction
Joseph Schneider grows up in a Cherokee-Jewish family in the Smoky mountains of North Carolina. He dreams to be a cook on the biggest ship there is in the world but his attachment to his mother Rachel and his rootedness to the little mountain village keep him from moving on. When his mother falls ill she reveals she stole him from a Palestinian girl Aliya in the 80s when she volunteered at a hospital in Gaza. Joseph refuses to know anything more about his biological mother, but later when Rachel dies, Joseph honors his promise to her and embarks on a painful pilgrimage to the holy land, a walk in the footsteps of his American mother and a search for Aliya.
Adnan Mahmutovic is a Swedish-Bosnian writer. He works at Stockholm University as a lecturer in literature and creative writing. His other major works include a novel Thinner than a Hair (2010), short story collection How to Fare Well and Stay Fair (2012), literary criticism Ways of Being Free (2012) and Future in Comics (2017), and creative writing pedagogy The Craft of Editing (2019).
Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to Damp Pebbles Blog Tours and Cinnamon Press for this free copy. All quotes in this review are taken from the Advanced Reader Copy and may change in final publication.
This book feels really emotional and deals with very difficult topics that are not for the casual reader. Making sure that you are in the right mindset to not only compartmentalize what is going on in the novel, but to not feel unprepared to hear anything that goes on throughout the novel. In other words: just prepare yourself.
Not only does this novel deal with the death of a parent and loved one, but it also involves finding out that said parent was in fact NOT the biological parent. Even more disturbing, that said parent actually kidnapped them from their real mother in a hospital that they were volunteering at, in a foreign country. As the main character, the feelings that Joseph goes through from the moment he finds out to the end is understandable. Rachel – his mother – was the one that raised him, took care of him, loved him. It makes sense that he would love her as a mother and consider her as his only mother. But also knowing that this person that you love so much did something terrible to someone else in the beginning can really cause someone to question everything about their life.
Joseph choosing to honor Rachel’s dying wish of him traveling to Gaza to find his birth mother Aliya could be considered an honorable one. For all intents and purposes, Joseph didn’t have to do anything once Rachel passed away. There wouldn’t be any way for her to know, although it’s important to see that Joseph didn’t end up thinking that way. To me, that made things a lot more interesting and really made the story have that much more of an impact.
To keep this as succinct as I can, I would say that this is a good novel for those that are intrigued by familial ties, learning about yourself and others that made an impact in your life, and stories about self-realization.