In Loubna Hassanieh’s creative, visionary novel, a man returns to his past, where memories and heartfelt soul-searching intuitively guide him to an enigmatic connection with his childhood love.
An intimate, first-person voice draws us into the world of Adel Jacob, a young boy ensconced in privilege, but kind and compassionate to the less fortunate. He’s happy spending time with a local boy, Malec, and is enamored with Malec’s younger sister, Mona.
Adel’s giving spirit is in marked contrast to that of his brother Aslan, a sibling likened to a poisonous nightshade plant, with something in him “beyond evil.” Their industrious, power-driven parents often turn a blind eye to their callous and manipulative son. When Adel suffers a serious spinal injury at Aslan’s hands, the pivotal event forces the brothers in separate directions.
Twenty-five years later, Adel returns from abroad. On her death bed, his beloved Nana Thabita urges Adel to keep searching for happiness. Beyond marriage and philanthropic endeavors, he finds an auspicious connection with a physical therapist whose own memories and anxious dreams appear to coincide with his past. Ultimately, the aging Adel surrenders to the mysteries of life and comes to realize the true power of love.
Hassanieh’s fluid, lyrical writing style captures this journey of self-discovery in five parts, effectively transitioning between present and past by incorporating a mixture of omniscient narrative, first-person storytelling, and poetic-styled reflections. The dialogue can feel stilted (although the reserved conversations seem suited to the story’s old-world feel), and the ending is a bit abrupt, but neither significantly impacts enjoyment.
From sibling rivalry and family rebellion, to love, loss, and secret betrayal, the story explores universal themes. Laced with poignant and surprising unveils—from character connections and unexpected deaths to long hidden betrayals—the narrative keeps readers invested as the drama comes full circle.
Overall, Where Will My Heart Beat? blends well-crafted exposé with the mysteries of the human experience, lending the book a magical lingering charm.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.