Reviews

When the Apricots Bloom by Gina Wilkinson

gingerellaj's review

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3.0

I received this book as an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.

Set in Baghdad, during the Sadam Hussein regime in the early 2000s, we meet three women: Huda, Rania and Ally. Living under the threat of her family being hurt by the mukhabarat, the Iraq secret police, Huda is ordered to befriend Ally, the wife of an Australian diplomat, and report back to them on her activities. We later learn of Ally's secrets and the fractured childhood friendship between Huda and Rania, and whether they can all work together to save themselves and their families.

Inspired by the author's own time and experiences in Iraq during this time, the story was suspenseful and illustrated what an incredibly scary time it must've been to live through. I enjoyed learning each of the women's stories and secrets, and following their coming together to try and save their families from the mukhabarat.

jolie3467's review

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emotional informative reflective tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.75

haidenehall's review

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emotional hopeful fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix

4.0

ameliafr7's review

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challenging dark tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.0


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sehmort's review

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3.0

3.5 stars but I rounded up - the ending was great but I found the narrative to be on the slow side and certain characters lacked depth. There were some beautiful threads that I wished were explored in more depth, the art for example. I did love the depiction of life in Iraq especially for women and the questions around loyalty and friendship….

mcgonagall14's review

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5.0

Opened my eyes to life in Iraq with a dictatorship. I couldn’t imagine living in constant fear as they did. I have a new appreciation for freedom, especially freedom of speech and a fair election.
I was on the edge of my seat through reading this book. I don’t recommend reading it before bed, unless you have a good way to relax and clear your mind haha.

captaincocanutty's review

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challenging mysterious tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

3.0

This books tries to do too much, and yet doesn't do enough. There was a trend in historical fiction a few years ago to follow at least 2 or maybe 3 different main characters, and I think this is a product of that trend.

There are very immersive moments that make it worth reading, and it's clear the author spent time in Iraq during the end of the reign of Saddam. The beginning and ending of the novel had me invested in what happened to the characters, but I felt like in the middle the author was trying to make a 300 page count, because it dragged and I was definitely skimming in some parts. There were also a few paragraphs that reappeared word for word in a couple different chapters. 

The book is interesting enough, but I think some changes to the editing could have made it a lot more engaging.

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lennyisreading's review

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4.0

Strayed from my usual fantasy reading for this, and was not disappointed. An insight into living under the Hussein reign in Iraq, from the perspective of 3 women with different backgrounds and levels of privilege. In places, this felt like it had been censored for palatability; I can't imagine the Mukhabarat being as subtle as they were in the story, with only one real taste of the violence I'm sure is carried out constantly. However, I'm unsure if this is due to unwillingness to write about it, or if it's to lend into the constant theme that "we don't talk about it so it doesn't happen".

libbyhenderson's review

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3.0

What I loved about this book: the setting. I don't think I have ever read a story that takes place within Iraq during the reign of Saddam Hussein. That point of view was what attracted me to the story to begin with, and it's what held my attention throughout. What I didn't love: it was slow moving, and the characters felt stiff and didn't compel me to keep reading. They were uninteresting.

lajacquerie's review

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2.0

This book has an excellent premise, and yet it feels so thin. Nothing felt full, here—not the descriptions of Baghdad, the characters themselves, or the dread/love motivating them. I suppose it gives a decent window into what it was like to live in Saddam's Iraq, but it felt devoid of richness and color (and people in tough circumstances are still vibrantly alive). By the end, a number of the plot points/actions that characters take don't make sense (mostly the secret police members).

I know the author spent time in-country herself, so she knows what she's talking about, but this just didn't feel "real" in either logic (only at the end of the book) or depth.