While initially reading this book, I first approached it like a painting. William Irvine, the author, showed me numerous word images of western and southeastern Asian towns and cities, exotic locations that I experienced through the main character, Omar al Ghamdi. And for the entire book, Omar continues to travel while always meeting new characters. But it’s these travels and Omar, himself, that soon conjured up a different simile as I turned more pages: This story is like a flower.
Omar is a confused and conflicted character. His sexual desires butt heads with his family’s upbringing. He seeks answers in Western culture, but dislikes the portions that go against some of his more traditional roots. Yet, he considers his religious heritage dull and unenlightened. Omar lacks an anchor that grounds his mind and his body to the world around him.
As the story plays out, Omar slowly begins to blossom. He chooses polygamy so as to bridge his more traditional roots with his sexual desires. Tao mysticism may provide a connection to the more modern ways of indulging in personal gratification. These schemes don’t work as he intended. And as each chapter finishes, Omar moves farther away from how he first sees himself and the world, moving toward a selfless individual, a small example of how one individual might make a difference in others’ lives .
For some readers, this type of story may not hold your interest. Story conflicts are mostly played out in the character’s mind. Negative events affect very little effect on the main character’s life. And, while many interesting scenarios are pieced together throughout, the book doesn’t quite seem to build to an ending when Omar fully flowers into an altruistic person. Yet, for those of you considering what lies between these paper covers (or the ebook,) you may discover a form of beauty waiting to be admired.