When the Moon Is Low: A Novel

Fereiba did not have the happiest childhood: she lost her mother as an infant, then spent her youth trying to earn her stepmother’s affection. But things turned out happy enough when she married–and eventually fell in love with–Mahmoud. But when the Taliban murders her husband, Fereiba makes the difficult decision to leave Afghanistan with her three children. A hard journey is made rougher when her oldest son, Saleem, becomes separated from the family and stuck in the underground world of refugees.

There could be nothing worse than choosing between two children. Ask me to choose between my right arm and my left and I will give you one. But ask me to choose between two of my children and my heart shatters into a thousand pieces.

Author Nadia Hashimi delivers another stunning novel with When the Moon is Low. Readers get a fascinating glimpse into all kinds of topics that may be foreign to them: traditional Afghan culture, living under the Taliban, the life of an illegal refugee. The first part of the book is told exclusively from Fereiba’s point of view, while the second half is primarily from Saleem’s. Hashimi’s words do an excellent job conveying emotion, from the joy Fereiba finds in her children to the despair she feels at losing her son and the hopelessness Saleem feels at times as he struggles to reach England. This is a long novel, and one that should be savored slowly.