Martin's Must Reads: 'A Pure Heart'
“On her last night in Egypt, Rose waits for her parents to fall asleep and then sneaks into her sister’s bedroom. She sifts through the clothes strewn on the back of the chair, examines the contents of each desk drawer, picks through every nook of the armoire, then slides the mattress to the side and goes though the things stored under her sister’s bed. ..She assures herself that she is an archaeologist, not a grave robber.”
I’m Betty Martin with "Martin’s Must Reads" and those are lines from the first chapter of Rajia Hassib’s novel A Pure Heart.
Rose is going through her sister Gameela’s things to try and make sense of why she was at a Cairo police headquarters when a suicide bombing happened. Rose’s husband, Mark, and her sister both knew the young man who denoted the bomb killing himself, three police officers and five other civilians, including Gameela.
Rose is an Egyptologist who works for New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her sister, Gameela, has been a devout Muslim since her teenage years praying five times a day and wearing a head covering at all times. Mark is a journalist for the New York Times who returned to Egypt from New York to write an article highlighting the lives of four Egyptians.
It is through Gameela that Mark meets Saaber. Saaber has been convinced that the way to a pure heart is through sacrifice.
Hassib’s novel offers a glimpse into how the way to a pure heart differs for individual Muslims. It begs the question: what turns a believer into a fanatic?
If you’re looking for a little insight into the Muslim way of life, then you must read A Pure Heart by Rajia Hassib.