An innocent young man goes to a city notorious for being a place where criminal plots are hatched. While there, he innocently does what those-who-are-criminals have done. Does that make him a criminal too? Does that justify infinite detention, a sentence that means he’ll be kept captive until whatever crime he might have been involved with, has been committed or has been successfully and indisputably thwarted? How long will that take? It doesn’t matter. Until then, he’s not going anywhere.
The Moment Before is founded on the result of a society that supports racial profiling and the wave of paranoia that sweeps up unsuspecting, innocent minorities just because they “look like a criminal”. In this realistic political thriller, indie author Jason Makansi imagined an old man whose youth has been stolen by the American government that cannot be faulted for doing what it thought it had to do in order to protect its citizens from another terrorist attack. But of the dozens of prisoners that were probably caught up in the real life dragnet that brought suspected terrorists from across the world to Guantanamo Bay, the fictional Elias Haddad is one of the few whose stories we get to explore with this depth, flashing back and forward through time to see young Elias, an idealistic and unsuspecting immigrant performing the actions that will seal his fate and label him as a terrorist deserving of the terrors of Gitmo, and then the effects on Elias himself, and the daughter that he abandoned when his sentence began and who has also been serving time in her own way.
The Goodreads blurb calls The Moment Before “an unflinching story of an American-Arab’s life in limbo” but only hints at the family and relationship and political drama that this book illustrates.
according to the publisher
Tricked by the two people closest to him, Elias Haddad leaves his beloved daughter Cheryl Halia for what he believes is a short trip home to Syria to visit his dying father. Largely ignorant of Middle East politics, Elias is detained upon arrival in Damascus and conscripted into Assad’s army, beginning a forty-year geopolitical odyssey from hell which culminates in his captivity in Guantanamo during America’s post-9/11 War on Terror.In her search for her father, Cheryl meets John Veranda, an idealistic lawyer who risks his family’s land, his marriage, and his aspirations for his hometown’s future for a relationship with Cheryl neither are prepared for.Stuart Eisenstat, a dedicated federal bureaucrat, thinks he’s doing an old friend a favor when he picks John’s hometown as the perfect site for relocating Guantanamo detainees only to come face to face with the personal cost of America’s global ambitions.
Reading this independently published book, it is easy to see why the author has been praised extensively. The Moment Before told an interesting story, even if it wandered a bit and Haddad’s naivete wasn’t entirely convincing to me but I genuinely enjoy a main character that I can have complicated feelings about. I would recommend this political, cross-cultural novel and whatever else Makansi writes next as being imaginative and entertaining.
Review tour schedule:
Tuesday, May 1st: Broken Teepee
Wednesday, May 2nd: What is That Book About
Thursday, May 3rd: Run Wright
Friday, May 4th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Monday, May 7th: Openly Bookish
Wednesday, May 9th: Kahakai Kitchen
Friday, May 11th: Helen’s Book Blog
Monday, May 14th: Girl Who Reads
Wednesday, May 16th: Patricia’’s Wisdom
Friday, May 18th: Jessicamap Reviews
Note: I received a complimentary copy of The Moment Before from TLC Book Tours in order to complete this review. I was not otherwise compensated.