The Convert [Book Review]

The ConvertTitle:The Convert: A Tale of Exile and Extremism
Author: Deborah Baker
Genre: Nonfiction, Historical fiction (you’ll see)
ISBN: 1555975828
Pages: 224
Year: 2011
Publisher: Graywolf Press
Source: Copy provided by publisher for BOOK CLUB
Rating: 2/5

Summary/My Thoughts:

This book disappointed me. And kept disappointing me over and over again. The topic is interesting: how Margaret Marcus, a Jewish girl from New York, becomes Maryam Jameelah, a devout Muslim living in Pakistan. And the style was interesting: alternating Margaret/Maryam’s letters with background information. But then I kept reading.

At first, I really enjoyed the letters and I only took issue with the in-between sections because the author inserted herself and her personal thoughts into them. But then the letters got less interesting. And then, we learn that the letters aren’t even authentic. Since the author explained that she came across the letters in the New York Public Library, I think it was natural for me to think they were the real letters. Turns out the author edited them. And rewrote them. And you don’t find out until AFTER you’ve read the entire book. That problem is compounded by the unreliability of Margaret/Maryam in her letters to begin with.

If her story is interesting, this book did not do it justice.

[Note: I am using the mini-review format while I am away. Full length reviews will return in July.]

5 thoughts on “The Convert [Book Review]

  1. zibilee June 23, 2011 / 10:53 am

    The circumstances behind the letters would have made me burning mad, and especially after having read the whole book first before finding that out! I am not going to be reading this one, and I thank you for sharing this information with us today. What a stinky thing for an author to do. Just about as bad as James Frey!


    • Jen - Devourer of Books June 23, 2011 / 11:30 am

      She isn’t as bad as Frey because she actually does state that the letters have been edited, but it is still incredibly annoying because she doesn’t tell you until the very end of the book.


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