Brass by Xhenet Aliu
by Xhenet Aliu
Random House (January 23, 2018)
Advance copy provided by publisher
I've always been interested in the stories that we tell one another, especially those we love, in an effort to guard or protect each other from painful truths, harsh realities and negative feelings. In her debut novel, Xhenet Aliu shares the lives of Elsie and Luljeta, a mother and daughter, and they beautifully quench my thirst for the types of stories that both build and break.
While I braced myself for emotionally-heavy fare, equipped with an acknowledgement of my own broken parental relationship, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of laughing I did while reading this novel; I found the perfect balance of thoughtful prose and witty, sarcastic observation.
Most notably, as Elsie and Luljeta each evolve and mature individually and in relationship to one another, the men in the background have a significant role but they never stand out; in Brass, the shine belongs solely to these strong, persistent women who work so hard to escape the dead ends they encounter at every turn.
Instead of feeling despondent or discouraged by the seemingly endless obstacles, I found myself feeling hopeful; I was left with a profound sense of empowerment and resilience that speaks to the remarkable writing of this brave new author. I will not soon forget these characters!