Review: The Gatekeeper’s Notebook by Sahar Abdulaziz

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. Thank you Djarabi Kitabs Publishing 🙂

The Gatekeeper's Notebook - The Imperfect Muslimah

The Gatekeeper’s Notebook by Sahar Abdulaziz is a psychological thriller about a widowed mother who’s on the brink of financial ruin and is trying desperately to claw her way out and make a new start. Every step Kalila Rahim takes towards freedom seems to pull a new secret up from the dirt that she’s left scrambling to bury again.

The plot of this book felt like it could have been a season on Desperate Housewives – a widowed mother who’s being forced to consider any number of distasteful things in order to preserve her lifestyle and the lifestyle of her preteen son, nosy neighbors who have their own secrets hiding in plain sight, and a whole lot of scheming.

One of my favorite things about this novel was the head jumping. I know that some people can find it disorienting, but I love it. I love being able to dip into the heads of so many different characters, especially in a novel like this where the top layer is constantly being peeled back to reveal something new. Getting to experience another character’s point of view also made sure to humanize some of the people that our protagonist Kalila didn’t have the distance to see as fully-fledged people and allowed the reader to pick up on clues about certain individuals that Kalila was inclined to trust.

While some thrillers keep the reader in the protagonist’s mind to ensure that we experience the same emotions that the protagonist does when the big reveal takes place, this one chose to do something very different and I appreciated it.

Something that I would have liked to have seen more of was acknowledgment from Kalila when she was being hypocritical. Though it is very realistic for a character to not see themselves clearly enough to have that kind of realization, Kalila had such strong feelings about fidelity and poaching and to see her make choices that directly went against those beliefs without much internal struggle at all was a little startling.

By far, my favorite character here was Hamza. Not the perfect, angelic little boy and not a depraved little maniac, he was a fleshed out, grieving kid who was struggling to take a side and I loved the way he was written.

My favorite line has to be:

“Sometimes the best course of action with the unhinged is to accept that they won’t likely change and then detach.”

It’s a great line and it’s sound life advice too!

I went into this one without any prior knowledge – all I did before I started reading was look at the front cover. This is what I always do with thrillers and it’s always been an incredibly fun ride. I thoroughly enjoyed myself with The Gatekeeper’s Notebook and it gets four stars from me. I’ll probably end up rereading it in a few months.

P.S. That cover is absolutely stunning, and looking at it after you’re done reading the book is just the best.

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