In this timely novel, Abeeda, a South African woman in her late forties, is struggling to hold on to both halves of a double life. To others, she is a pious Muslim mother of four, coping with the death of one of her sons to AIDS. But Abeeda has also developed a gambling addiction, winning and losing huge amounts of money. In a series of flashbacks her life is traced as a woman in her twenties, through a torrid affair with her younger sister's fiance, Imran, and her history of taking wild risks. In all, this is a gripping story of family, addiction, religion, and redemption.
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About the Author: Rayda Jacobs, a 'middle child" herself, lived in Toronto for a number of years. She was born in Cape Town, South Africa where she now lives and writes. The Middle Children was her first published book.From Publishers Weekly:
A toxic mix of addiction and loss undoes the staid life of a South African Muslim woman in novelist and filmmaker Jacobs's American debut. Abeeda "Beeda" Ariefdien is a 49-year-old single mother who, having raised her four sons after her husband left the family, is now supported by them. But her pious, quiet Cape Town life unravels after her friend Garaatie suggests they take a trip to the local casino—a place Beeda hadn't known existed. Beeda wins a slot machine jackpot and becomes hooked, even though her Muslim religion forbids gambling. Beeda's addiction begins slowly, but after her youngest son tells her he is dying of AIDS, "going to see auntie" (her euphemism for gambling) is her only solace. As rumors circulate about Beeda's son's illness and the amount of time she spends at the casino, Beeda defends her son and forsakes her robes in favor of jeans when gambling (to distinguish her separate lifestyles from each other). She eventually tries to conquer her addiction, but it may be too late. Jacobs realistically portrays the psychology of an addict, though Beeda can come across as something of a sympathetic if didactic straw woman. Beeda may lose big, but readers will be enriched. (July)
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