“If you wanted to be mean, you would say that Iman was Salma’s sidekick. If you wanted to be nice you would say she was like a devoted, much younger sister.”
Genre: Literary Fiction
Published: March 7, 2019
Rate: 3 ⭐⭐⭐
When Salma, Moni, and Iman–friends and active members of their local Muslim Women’s group–decide to take a road trip together to the Scottish Highlands, they leave behind lives often dominated by obligation, frustrated desire, and dull predictability. Each wants something more out of life, but fears the cost of taking it. Salma is successful and happily married, but tempted to risk it all when she’s contacted by her first love back in Egypt; Moni gave up a career in banking to care for her disabled son without the help of her indifferent husband; and Iman, in her twenties and already on her third marriage, longs for the freedom and autonomy she’s never known. When the women are visited by the Hoopoe, a sacred bird from Muslim and Celtic literature, they are compelled to question their relationships to faith and femininity, love, loyalty, and sacrifice.
I did enjoy reading Bird Summons, but didn’t love it as much as I thought I would.
What I liked: the story telling. It was such a spiritual and emotional journey for the three women, which was beautiful to witness. Each coming into themselves and standing firm by it. Bird Summons did have me reflective and introspective, I’d read something and have to put down the book to think more on it.
There is Scottish folklore that is shared throughout the book and it was amazing to read about! I loved it.
What I didn’t like: the writing. I did struggle a lot to get into it. This was my first book by Leila Aboulela so I can’t tell if it’s me or her, but it made for a slow read.
There’s a lot of magical realism in the book that came out of nowhere and honestly I felt like it did not belong at all.
Bird Summons is a book that talks a lot about womanhood and friendship and the journey in between. This being my first Leila Aboulela, and her recent work, I will be going back to her back list titles and see if I will love them more.
Have you read Bird Summons? What did you think about it?