Friday, 29 January 2016

Book Review: “Behind Picket Fences” by Hend Hegazi

Hot off the press, this is up and coming author Hend Hegazi's second novel, following the publication of Normal Calm last year. Hegazi is an American author currently based in Egypt.

The night before I started reading this book, my husband and I had a fairly heated discussion about what causes seemingly healthy couples to cheat on one another. No, in case you were wondering this had nothing to do with our own (happy) marriage- the very concept of cheating was bit of an enigma to both of us but we had heard of a few stories in our own social circles of marital breakdowns caused as a result of infidelity under circumstances that perplexed us as outsiders. I went to bed that night pondering how fragile marriages can potentially be and what could possibly trigger a complete erosion of a relationship between couples who appear to have it all. The next day, I started reading Behind Picket Fences, which I received for review purposes, not realising that to a large extent, it delves into this very issue. 

The story revolves around four seemingly different couples residing in the same neighbourhood, all of whom seem to have it together on the surface but in fact experience complex challenges in their marital and personal lives behind closed doors. 

Farris has tried everything under the sun to try to put the spark back in his marriage with Sidra. Yet all things point to the fact that she may be cheating. Is all as it seems? Is the person who seems like the 'bad guy' where marital problems are concerned always the bad guy? Mariam and Morgan appear to be happily married until financial problems place a strain on their marriage and Mariam finds herself leaving her young family to return to the workplace. Summer appears to be a typical spoiled housewife with every material pleasure at her disposal but why is she so unhappy? May and Hassan face the ultimate test when chronic illness comes knocking at their door.

I must confess that the book started out feeling a little bit like a stereotypical Bollywood script. However, it definitely does improve as it progresses and it carries some deeply profound messages about life, love, marriage and faith. The book explores the complex issues faced from both a female and a male perspective in a sympathetic and insightful way.

The book has not officially been released as yet but look out for it on Amazon in the near future.