Book Review

THE OTHER AMERICANS by Laila Lalami

Rating: 4 / 5

I read and enjoyed Laila Lalami’s THE MOOR’S ACCOUNT last year, so have been eager to read more from her. I’ve been admiring this gorgeous cover on THE OTHER AMERICANS since it first came out, so I was happy to finally pick up a copy!

THE OTHER AMERICANS centers its narrative around the death of a Moroccan immigrant, Driss Guerraoui. Walking across a dark intersection, he is struck in a hit and run. Driss’ daughter Nora is a music composer who returns to town, convinced that there is more behind her father’s death than a random accident. Contributing to the story are many more including Jeremy who is an Iraqi War vet and an old friend of Nora’s, Driss’ widow Maryam, an undocumented witness who is afraid to come forward, the detective looking into the case and the neighbor who has had runins with Driss in the past. The story jumps back and forth in time, even giving us Driss’ own narration.

I really enjoyed this book as a whole. It is one that I found really easy to settle in to and the mystery and the secrets being revealed kept me hooked throughout. It is merges mystery with family drama, literary fiction and a bit of romance. I did much of this book on audio and the full cast narration as the POV switches between so many narrators was very well done.

Nora was a great central character to follow. She is torn between her plan to leave her home in rural California behind to pursue her music dreams and the need to find justice for her father. She has her suspicions early on against the neighbors who have not welcomed her Moroccan family with open arms, but there are secrets in her father’s life to uncover as well. Nora’s story shows us the discrimination she has faced, going back in time to 9/11. Driss and his wife’s story opens our eyes to their experiences when they are new to America and some of the battles they have faced as well.

With so many narrators and backstories, I did feel that there were some story lines that didn’t get fully resolved for me in the end, but overall I really did love how the book played out and look forward to reading more from Laila Lalami!

Reading Challenges:

#ReadingWomenChallenge – a book by an Arab woman

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