The son of a bohemian Irish-American mother and an Egyptian father who disappeared when he was three, Ahmad turned to Islam at the age of 11. He feels his faith threatened by the materialistic, hedonistic society he sees around him in the slumping factory town of New Prospect, in northern New Jersey. Neither the world-weary, depressed guidance counselor at Central High School, Jack Levy, nor Ahmad's mischievously seductive black classmate, Joryleen Grant, succeeds in diverting the boy from what his religion calls the Straight Path.
When he finds employment in a furniture store owned by a family of recently immigrated Lebanese, the threads of a plot gather around him, with reverberations that rouse the Department of Homeland Security.
But to quote the Qur'an: Of those who plot is God the best.
©2006 John Updike; (P)2006 Brilliance Audio
"[A] compelling and surprising ride." (USA Today)
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I usually don't enjoy Updike's books but keep trying to discover why he is so highly regarded! My efforts paid off. This is a most enjoyable book. The narrator did a great job with the various speakers, Ahmad uses a stiff precise English, Mr Levey a proper Northeast Jewish accent. Also the producer has done a great job; a preacher's voice sound over a loud speaker system and a phone call has the proper tinny quality.
John Updike's story of a Jersey Jihadi coming of age is more than plausible, it's so possible that this could happen that it's truly frightening. We are all so vulnerable, and it's that very vulnerability that Updike's reluctant hero schoolteacher teacher finds he must draw upon if he wants to survive.
The narrator of this book has an incredible ability to change accents on the fly, giving each character a special voice and life. It is very easy to tell the characters apart just by the way he reads each one. Also, the producer added in some special effects to make the narration sound like a graduation event, or a church microphone system. This is probably the best read story of any I've heard on audible. It's a treat just to listen to the narrator speak.
The story is painfully detailed. I wish the suspense was there. This book never made me 'want more'. My expectations when ordering this book was to understand the mind of a terrorist. This book didn’t do that. Most audio books I have listened to are wonderful. This one was boring for me. Just not my cup of tea.
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