House of Sand and Fog, by Andre Dubus III
This book, just wow. I don’t even know if I should recommend it, because it is one of the most disturbing, dark stories I have read. But I absolutely loved every page. To call it intense would be an understatement, to call it captivating would be insufficient. Dubus makes sure that his characters are unforgettable, flawed and human, and will get under your skin in a personal way. The three main characters: a former colonel in the Iranian Air Force who is struggling to retain his family’s pride and dignity; a former addict who is struggling to keep the home her father left her after her husband walked out on her; and a married cop who falls in love with the former house owner and finds himself more deeply entangled in her impossible mess of a situation by the day, all become people you agree with, even as their stories conflict with each other.
It’s the ultimate exercise in perspective-taking. As each person’s story and viewpoint change, you find yourself wanting them to come out on top — and this book is so well-written, good luck putting it down, especially when the story becomes almost too much to bear.
This novel was written in the 90’s, yet it is startlingly relevant to current times; it is full of ugly prejudices, the lessons of the American Dream gone wrong, and of global politics and injustices, and how good people can turn bad under the wrong circumstances.
Thank you to my sister Krista for placing this into my hands with fair warning of its disturbing nature. Surprise, surprise. I loved it.