Reviews

Review: Orhan’s Inheritance

Well, this weekend was a pretty fabulous reading weekend. Since adopting Jasper in September, my Other Half and I haven’t really taken the time we used to to just sit and read when we’re at home. Really, we haven’t even had the time. Until very recently, getting our hyper little pup to calm down and take a nap during the day was just a pipe dream.

But this weekend, we decided it was time. Our goal was to just take some more time and read.  Luckily, we’ve discovered a great way to tire Jasper out so we could make sure that happened: the dog park. Pretty much right across the street from our apartment complex is our town’s dog park. Because it’s finally getting a little nicer, and we can mostly trust Jasper to at least acknowledge us when we call his name, we’ve started taking him. And boy, it’s amazing what 3 acres, lots of dogs, and a couple hours will do!

After sufficiently tiring the pup out on yesterday morning, my Other Half and I ventured to Barnes & Noble, where he wanted to pick up John Grisham’s latest. And, because I am an addict, I certainly couldn’t leave empty handed. So I picked up two books! And…proceeded to finish one of them today at noon. Sounds like the perfect weekend.

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REVIEW: Orhan’s Inheritance, Aline Ohanesian
Published: 2015
Length: 337
Country/culture: Turkey/Armenian

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Plot: When his eccentric grandfather dies and leaves the family house to a stranger in America, Orhan travels from his Turkish village to understand why. While trying to ensure his family’s house is not lost, Orhan learns a story about his past from a woman who never wanted it to be found.

Most Memorable Line(s): “Time and progress are two long-lost relatives who send an occasional letter.”
-I love this line. After finishing the whole book, this line felt like it truly encompassed the novel’s essence.

What I liked: Wow. Wow wow wow. That’s really the only way to respond to this book; it’s fascinating. Ohanesian creates such rich, rich characters and such a compelling plot in her debut novel that I really don’t know where to start with it. I guess the place is to say that I don’t really know much about World War I. I know the basics? I’ve heard of the issues between the Turks and Armenians. But I’ve never, ever gone into detail. So I was excited when I found this book – it’s something that I’ve never read about before, and it sounded really interesting. But I wasn’t expecting where the story went. Beginning with Orhan, I expected to learn more about his life, and his past, etc. When I realized the story was ultimately about his grandfather, Kemal, and Seda – the woman who’s given Kemal’s family’s house – I was surprised, but excited. Ohanesian really takes you right into the struggle faced by Christian Armenians at the start of the War. And what’s really impressive is that Ohanesian manages to do so without truly placing blame – at least on individuals. She perfectly describes Seda’s niece’s transgenerational grief and juxtaposes it with the guilt of Orhan – who has pride and doesn’t fully understand the condemnation of his people. The way Ohanesian writes in a Romeo & Juliet-esque love story (aka massively unrequited, ultimately) really worked as well. I felt for these characters, their situations. I understood their grief, anger, and decision making processes. Ohanesian wrote a book that perfectly showcased the way modernity tries to remember the past while still trying to run from it. At the end of the story, I shut the book and simply thought: When will humanity learn from its mistakes?

What I didn’t like: Toward the late middle of the story, I felt a bit of the plot got muddled. All of a sudden, certain characters were in positions I didn’t understand and wasn’t sure how those situations came about. While it all worked itself out eventually, it was difficult for a little while.

Grade: 8/10

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