absolutely brilliant artwork
illustrated by Danielle Pajak
My Recommendation: No Spoilers
The Drum Symbol by Alexis P. Johnson is the most touching, pleasantly haunting, and gracefully written novel I have read this year. I found this book through a mutual friend who had shared the novel from the author’s page. I was drawn at first to the decision the author made to send the royalties from the book to aid those who are rebuilding their lives after the explosion in Lebanon along with my desire to support an independent author. I hadn’t come across a book on my own in which the author had planned to donate royalties to a charitable cause, so that was a big draw.
It is a story set in the mid 1800s, and it begins with Kalila in Beirut and continues with her journey to another land. The book opens with a dedication to both Irish and Lebanese cultures along with a quote from the poet, Khalil Gibran that satisfyingly surprised me as his words sprung to mind recently after having been forgotten for a very long time, still before I had opened this book. The story itself includes the quote that had come to my mind and I had paraphrased in my own way, and wasn’t sure if he was the author.
The prose is sophisticated and perfectly clear. Its spirit is down to earth and evokes the humanness of the characters as well as humans in general. And while it is deep, it is also playful in a way that made me feel like I had been hanging out with these characters and having fun along with them.
It is rich with characterization; natural, expressive dialogue; emotion, and meaning. It is a book that is equally developed in characterization and plot. You might find yourself connecting with certain character(s); for me it was Brigid and Kalila.
As once a child who looked consistently for four leaf clovers in patches of grass in Brooklyn, NY as soon as I learned about Ireland and mused about maybe having a Celtic great grandmother ancestor sometime because of my green eyes (my immediate family ancestry is Mediterranean, southern Italian), as well as someone who loves Lebanese food and music—especially from the independently-owned restaurant in Norwood, MA called To Beirut, I was already drawn to the subject of this book. But then blend that with dreams, one of my favorite subjects, and spontaneous dancing moments along with heart-wrenching scenes and heartwarming ones, I found this to be a truly satisfying book that I know I will read again.
Check out the novel
Illustrator: Danielle Pajak