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I recently reactivated my Reviewer Account on Netgalley and was surprised that it’s been a year since I’ve read a book from there. Probably because I have my hands (and Kindle app) full of books from Bookbub, Bookscream, Book Cave, and Love Kissed, where I am subscribed. (For those who don’t know it yet, these are sites that mail you books at sale prices or even free. You’re welcome ☺️). Truth be told, I still have MANY, MANY books to read but I couldn’t resist picking this one up.
The blurb of They Called Me Wyatt was nothing short of intriguing. Read for yourself:
When Jordanian student Siwar Salaiha is murdered on her birthday in College Park, Maryland, her consciousness survives, finding refuge in the body of a Seattle baby boy. Stuck in this speech delayed three-year old body, Siwar tries but fails to communicate with Wyatt’s parents, instead she focuses on solving the mystery behind her murder. Eventually, her consciousness goes into a dormant state after Wyatt undergoes a major medical procedure.
Fast-forward twenty-two years. Wyatt is a well-adjusted young man with an affinity towards the Middle East and a fear of heights. While working on his graduate degree in Middle Eastern studies, Wyatt learns about Siwar’s death, which occurred twenty-five years ago. For reasons he can’t explain, he grows obsessed with Siwar and spends months investigating her death, which police at the time erroneously ruled as suicide. His investigation forces him to open a door he has kept shut all his life, a spiritual connection to an unknown entity that he frequently refused to acknowledge. His leads take him to Amman, Jordan where after talking to her friends and family members and through his special connection with the deceased, he discovers a clue that unravels the mystery of her death. Will Siwar get justice after all?
See what I mean? I was hooked. I wasn’t too keen on the cover but the premise definitely got me reading the book. Aside from wanting to know who killed her, this different kind of reincarnation was a fresh take on a fictional work. And I wasn’t disappointed.
The book is divided into two parts. Part I is wholly from the point of view of Siwar, the Jordanian girl who was pushed to death on her 25th birthday, and whose consciousness transferred to Wyatt, a three-year old with whom she shares her birth date. The how and the why of her reincarnation, if you can call it that, was not explained. Maybe because it simply is unexplainable.
There are laughable incidents when Siwar realised she’s in a different body. They served as a breather from all the mystery and darkness that surrounded her murder.
I avoid looking at myself in the mirror. The first time I saw the face of a blue-eyed three-year old Caucasian looking back at me in the mirror, I shrieked. Both Noah and Krista laughed at my reaction.
There is another annoyance to my new status. I’m very uncomfortable with my boyhood. I have a penis and testicles and the whole package. I try not to look down there when Krista changes me, but having a penis is hard to ignore. It’s always protruding, always there.
In Part II, the point of view switched between Siwar and Wyatt, who is now a fully grown-up man, extremely interested in Middle Eastern culture, with her niece as his girlfriend. The development of Wyatt’s awareness of Siwar’s presence in his mind and her hand in almost all aspects of his life was convincing and unnerving. It raises many questions as to his true identity and personality, though. How much of Siwar was Wyatt? Who, really, is Wyatt? Or, worse: Is there really a Wyatt?
For the most part of the book, Siwar’s loneliness, regrets and sadness prevailed. Dying young has robbed her of many things in life. She had many dreams and aspirations which were cut short by a murderer. But perhaps, the most glaring of all her misgivings was her disappointment in dying with her virginity intact. Her insecurities and repressed sexuality resonated throughout the book. In relating her life story, the author brings us a vivid glimpse of Arabic, specifically, Jordanian culture, and how girls are treated (or judged?) there, especially when it comes to having relationships with boys. The narratives involving Siwar’s involvement with several boys foreshadowed the solution of the crime. The twists and turns are enjoyable and the murderer turned out as someone you’d not imagine it to be.
There are a few typographical and grammatical errors which could have made reading this book more pleasant. But all in all, They Called Me Wyatt is a fine work of fiction that is at once humorous, poignant, and suspenseful.
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. You can pre-order the book here.
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