An eight-year-old, as sympathetic as she may be, is not always the most reliable narrator. I think Abi-Ezzi counts on the reader to understand what her protagonist Ruba isn't able to explain. Or maybe the storytelling just isn't that great. The premise--a Christian family trying to get by in Lebanon in the early 1980s--is compelling enough, but I just didn't buy into the drama of the fucked up father and the terrible secret from his past.
I'm a sucker for Arab and Arab-American/English fiction, with its magic realist feel. The parallel to Latin-American style writing extends to the nomenclature, with young Ruba calling her parents Mami and Papi. Is that typical, I wonder?
It was frustrating to always feel like I was missing something, and then not caring much once the pieces did come together. Even though it was a fast enough read, I'm not sure I would have finished this book if I wasn't reading it with Celia.