Saturday, September 26, 2009

31 Hours by Masha Hamilton

Carol wakes up, sure that her son, Jonas, is in trouble. He is grown and living on his own, but Carol still feels that tight maternal connection that she believes will always let her know if he needs her. She tries repeatedly to call him, but cannot connect with him. She calls his friends, but no one seems to have seen him lately. She goes to the apartment of his new girlfriend, Vic, but although she catches her coming home, Vic hasn't heard from him either. She is busy working on a new dance show and hasn't been home much herself, so hasn't thought much of Jonas's silence. Carol even contacts Jake, Jonas' father whom she has been divorced from for years to try to get his help. They try to reassure each other, but end up convincing each other that something serious is going on.

Carol is right that Jonas is in trouble. Jonas is still in Manhattan, but has traveled far away in his mind. He is in a new apartment, a temporary waystation set up by Muslim extremists to house those recruits the night before they commit terrorist attacks. Jonas is there praying and purifying himself. Tomorrow morning he will strap on a vest filled with explosives and enter the subway to set it off. He doesn't want to die, but wants to make a statement that the violence worldwide must end. He is convinced that his sacrifice and the deaths of others will make his point.

The reader meets other residents of New York City. There is Mara, Vic's little sister, who considers Jonas like a big brother. Mara is the only child left at home, which means she is left to deal with her parents' breakup and her mother's withdrawal as she grieves about it. Mara decides to ride the subway to her father's new apartment to try to talk him into coming home. We also meet Sonny, who makes his living in the subways, panhandling and getting by while homeless.

Masha Hamilton has created an intriguing story. The tension rachets up with every page, as the reader realises that this is really happening, and wonders if Carol and Jake will find Jonas in time to stop him. The author is adept at setting the atmosphere of a busy city. Her real forte though is character development. Each character, no matter how large or small their part in the story, is fully developed to the point that one feels one could pick them out of a crowd. She makes us feel what each is feeling. It is impossible to put this book down without finding out what happens next. This book is recommended for all readers.


Bookfool said...

I really enjoyed this one. Great review!!

Anonymous said...

Great review!
Going to the bookstore,library or wherever I have to tomorrow.
This is a must read!
God bless,