A story of love and redemption, set in Trinidad, that exposes the fault lines in Indo-Muslim culture. Behrooz is brought to a familial complex, The Yard, to live with a devout and extended family, where he struggles to belong. He forms a childish alliance with Maya, a wilful and rebellious girl, and his guardian’s daughter. After they share a night of adolescent tenderness, Maya, fearing retribution, flees to London. Behrooz painstakingly rebuilds his life and marries another. When tragedy strikes, Maya returns to her childhood home. There, she and Behrooz must face up to old demons. Can their love endure? Even after Maya is dealt the most righteous” blow of all?
This book was…amazing and intensely moving and surreal. It’s presented in such a way that the reader is taken on this journey through the intricate parts of these characters lives through a course of three, maybe four, decades and you are truly just along for the ride. A well-rounded and in-depth book. I laughed, gawked and cried. If you are looking for a book that can teach you something, move you, and forever stay with you, The Yard is the book to do that.
I loved that the author introduces us into this little community (family) that makes up The Yard that, over time, really emulates this powerful, influential and almost all-consuming entity. The idea and the history behind the large Ali family was both wonderful and intimidating. With the old expectations, rules/codes, and alterations (or perspectives) on religion, I was just able to connect and empathized with the characters at these different stages in their lives.
Although presented as a narrative focused on two characters in particular, Maya (the beautifully and brutally honest, flawed and intense trapped girl) and Behrooz (the beautifully broken, observant, kind, loyal, lost boy) the reader is given clear insights and details about the rest of the family that lives in the yard. I found myself shifting in my opinion of a few of Maya’s relatives as time went on for their judgment and harsh words from time to time—but only slightly.
Moreover, while I faulted a bit following her departure from the Yard, I really enjoyed Maya’s character throughout this book because the reader gets to watch her grow. As well as Behrooz, who had several demons and issues he needed time to sort out. The love between them and their connection ran so deep to their cores, that by the end of this bittersweet, surreal reflection of life story, I was pleased with the amount of closure the author gives us.
Out of all the characters in this book, I think one I found little to no fault with was Father Khalid who was “overly compassionate,” and who seemed the most reasonable at times. Especially in comparison to his brother, Ansar:
“For Father Khalid, religion rules were purely contextual; their literal implications were often insignificant compared to the bigger means behind them, and religion on the whole was void without compassion, love, respect and intrinsic tolerance towards every human being. He valued the Golden Rule and found himself replying on it when in doubt.…It wasn’t overt; but innate, intuited.” – The Yard pg. 188
I didn’t have too many notes on the presence of religion in this book because it wasn’t something that over powered the narrative or these characters. It’s a huge part of these characters and this family, but they are presented just as that. A family; One that deals with the raising and protecting their children, different parenting methods, love, commitment and identity among all of the Ali family members.
I really enjoyed the whole community, culture, and the authentic experience this book gives. It was kind of unlike anything I’ve ever read before, while at the same time, it reads as if you are watching a movie. Everything is laid out as it is and the reader can just live it and experience it with these characters. If you like stories that offer authentic perspectives about life, family and love, this is definitely the book for you.
Aliyyah Eniath was born in Trinidad and Tobago; her ancestors hailed from Uttar Pradesh, India. She’s a director at Safari Publications, a magazine publishing house, and founder/editor-in- chief of Belle Weddings (Caribbean) magazine. Her debut novel The Yard (literary, romance) is published by Speaking Tiger Books in both paperback and ebook formats.
She explores the ideas of breaking free from imposed boundaries (familial or otherwise), understanding and feeling supported in who you are, overcoming self-doubt, and finally being true to yourself. Her writing looks at strict religious ideologies and their potential consequences and begs for a softer approach and innate understanding and compassion towards every human being.
She writes from the perspective of East Indians whose forefathers were brought to Trinidad from India through the British colonial indentureship scheme in 1845.
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Thank you so much for checking out this review. I really hope you go and read The Yard for yourself.
Until the next post,