31 Hours by Masha Hamilton

High tension, high action, I will read Masha Hamilton again.

~ Sheila

31_hours_coverIn the middle of the night in New York City, a woman jolts awake, realizing she hasn’t heard from her 21-year-old son in weeks, and knowing beyond doubt that something is wrong.

His girlfriend doesn’t know why he won’t answer his cell phone or why he doesn’t call anymore.

What we know is that the young man, Jonas, is isolated in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge, pondering his recent conversion to Islam and the training he received last year in Pakistan. Alone now, cut off from all dissuasion, Jonas is shaving his legs, eating a gyro, listening to the passing subways and preparing himself for the once unthinkable action he has been instructed to undertake in exactly 31 hours.

His sudden absence from the lives of those who love him causes a cascade of events that span the city. As Hamilton’s intense novel moves through the streets and subways of New York, we come to know the fears and prayers of its characters. We also learn to feel the connections and disconnections that occur between people who have loved one another, not only here, but in the Middle East.

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My Thoughts: When I signed on to read this book I chose it as I found it to be refreshingly different than anything I had read before.  That is usually a draw for me… and I was not disappointing by Masha Hamilton’s book.  The background setting of this book – a subway – a mother’s intuition – New York – time  ticking away…

In a word I found this book breathtaking.  The tension I felt from  Carol, the mother, really hit home for me… I could imagine that feeling; all worried about your kid – no matter how old they are (been there – done that).  And all you have to go on is  a feeling. The fact is, I am not sure if this was a read that I would have chose off the book shelf – the terrorism in the book was way out in left field for me and while incredibly intense and interesting…. I felt as though I didn’t let my guard down for the entire book…  Is that possible? And maybe, that’s the way it was suppose to be.

And then…. as suddenly as it began… it reached the ending that left me still unsure if it was time to let go of the breath that I had been holding in for the better part of the book.

I  feel as though I am still processing this book.  I think Masha Hamilton has a well written novel here – with incredibly real characters.  I did enjoy this sometimes difficult read and would like to read more of what she has written. A definite unique read that starts with a shock of adrenaline and  continues to keep the heart rate rising from there.


Masha Hamilton is the author of four acclaimed novels, most recently 31 Hours (2009), an Indie Choice pick by independent booksellers, which Publisher’s Weekly called “gorgeous and complex.” “You don’t just read this gut-wrenching book; you become part of it in a deep, primal way,” wrote StyleSubstanceSoul.com founder Lois Alter Mark. Hamilton is also the founder of two world literacy programs: the Camel Book Drive, begun in 2007 to supply a camel-borne library in northeastern Kenya, and the Afghan Women’s Writing Project, begun in 2009 to foster creative and intellectual exchange between Afghan women writers and American women authors and teachers.

This book was sent to me for review by Unbridled Books

11 Comments on “31 Hours by Masha Hamilton

  1. I’ve read the plot summary for 31 Hours before and thought it sounded good – your review really makes me want to read it now! Definitely adding this one to the never-ending TBR list!

    By the way, I really like how you include a little author summary at the end of your reviews – nice idea.


    • Thanks Sue… when possible I do try to put a little about the author in as well. In this case, I love how Masha has worked in other countries and that really was a sell for me to read this book.

    • It really was… I am still not sure how I feel overall about that – well written, great characters but I feel like I had no break from that tension….

  2. I’d love to read this one. It sounds like it has all the elements I enjoy. Thanks for the post.

  3. This book sounds really interesting. I’m intrigued enough to put it on my TBR list.

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