The Jealous Flock by Ashley Borodin

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Title: The Jealous Flock

Author: Ashley Borodin

Genre: Literal Fiction

Rating: ****

Review: The opening to The Jealous Flock was good, we meet Martin and his family during an ordinary day. I liked how race and religion where introduced from the offset as Doris’ mother is from Azerbaijan and they are Sufi. Sufism is the mystical Islamic belief and practice in which Muslims seek to find the truth of divine love and knowledge through direct personal experience of God. We follow Martin, Doris and their son John in their respectively job in publishing, PR and politics and how they cope with these pressures as well as other external factors. John unlike his parents wants to break away, leave his job and move country while Martin and Doris work harder and stick through the rougher times.

As we cross into the second half of the novel we get to see the culture and social working in the Middle East, including their patriarchal systems. We see the characters’ confronting the failings of their own lives and trying to deal with their own personal and joint issues. While this book focuses on some really important issues like gender, race, religion and conflict in varying forms I found myself slightly confused about what was actually happening it almost feels like a lot is going on but nothing is going on at the same time. One thing I really did enjoy about this novel was the way Borodin looks at gender and the roles of men and women in society. I also liked the way Borodin looks at attachment and how this can advance and hinder our relationship depending on who we are attached to and who is attached to us.

As we cross into the final section of this novel we see some of the characters get some form of resolution while others are left hanging with only a whisper of resolution. The Jealous Flock at its core is a realistic fiction story that centres around the slightly strained relationships, their lives as individuals and in partnerships. I felt that the narrative drops readers directly into the lives of the characters and although this allows the reader explore their lives and innermost thoughts as they struggle with identity and the maturing of unique ideas it is confusing because they is no background or exposition anywhere in this novel. The Jealous Flock is heavily geared towards deep thinking, challenging societal ideals, and the mass acceptance of those who are different, it is a novel is designed to open the audience’s mind and heart and force them to think outside of the box.

Overall, the relationships in The Jealous Flock are realistic and relatable, breathing life into the characters both on their own and in harmony with their counterparts. The story takes on a political drive with themes of racism, xenophobia, and sexism but little in the way of plot development. The dynamics including the dynamics between the father and son of this story are particularly captivating, as Borodin manages to catch those meaningful moments that happen during the shift from parent to lifelong friend and mentor. While this was a thought-provoking novel I did feel it had issues, for example the constant changing of the P.O.V. didn’t fit. Wally’s perspective is actually Martin’s so I didn’t understand the name change and although I like Randall’s story arc I didn’t feel he warranted his own P.O.V. I would have connected better and enjoyed this story arc more if it was told from a third person’s P.O.V. like John’s and then it would give his time in Australia more depth and purpose. Despite these issues I would recommend The Jealous Flock but to reader who enjoy literary and thought provoking prose.

This book was sent to me for review consideration by the author

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