It is said that you never know what goes on behind closed doors, and if perchance you happened to be the fly on the wall of someone’s home you would be surprised by how different your perception is to what really goes on.
This is the thought I had when reading “Behind Picket Fences” by Hend Hegazi. The narrative focuses on the lives of four families in a neighbourhood and the drama that unfolds shows that what things seem to be is not always as they are. From the psychological and emotional struggles of the beautiful young artist Summer, to the illness suffered by May, the caring mother and loving wife, to the financial difficulties affecting the marriage of Morgan and Mariam this book reminds us that life is filled with various trials. It allows us as the reader to get out of our own world for a while and to broaden our ideas of what life should really be like. We are reminded that no one is without trials. In fact even a seemingly perfect marriage like that of the characters Sidra and Farris is filled with its own trials.
This book is a lovely portrayal of the trials and tribulations of life, the way in which people understand and depict love and the things they would do to achieve happiness. It sheds light on the fact that human beings are complex creatures and our motives and actions may not make sense to each other, but often come from genuine feelings. It touches on the idea of tolerance and reminds us that if we do not empathize with and tolerate one another then we will miss out on having meaningful relationships with others.
The book also allows us to focus on the fact that although we are all very different, in essence we are actually more similar than we think.
I enjoyed how the characters came together to support one another even though they may not have understood each other’s lives or situations. The neighbourly spirit was brought to the fore as characters put their own issues aside to help out and see to the needs of their neighbours. It was refreshing to see people depicted as supportive instead of hostile towards one another.
One thing that bothered me while reading though was that I had to wait a few chapters to find out what happened to the character as the book was divided into 4 stories and each chapter focused on a different story. At times I found myself filled with suspense, wanting to skip chapters just to find out what was going to happen to the characters I was reading about.
All in all I enjoyed reading this book. It tugged at the emotional heartstrings and presented relatable stories. The characters and their struggles are identifiable to people across cultures and religions. What the book focuses on is the human experience and the essence of life. It reminds us not to judge anyone because indeed, we never know what goes on behind closed doors, or in this case, behind picket fences.
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