Rating: 5 stars plus out of 5
Life hasn’t been easy for Amir since he fled Iran after a brutal imprisonment. The trauma experienced at the hands of the guards left a dark spot on his soul. The one constant in his life since relocating to Chicago has been his lover—now husband—Esmail, whose steadfast love and support has soothed his wounded heart.
But this Shab-e Yalda, Amir wants to be the one giving his husband something special, because even after the darkest nights, the sun will rise again.
Really, Watermelon Kisses by Freddy Mackay is one of those stories that makes me want to run outside, grabbing people to say “have you read this story? You must read this story…”. Because it’s so powerful, it’s message of hope and love so enduring and impactful that I want to send it out there as a holiday gift to everyone.
And it starts out so gently, and like the gentle ripples spreading across a lake, you have no idea of the power of the swift currents waiting for you just underneath the initial surface you see, waiting to sweep you emotionally under.
You first meet Amir when he’s shopping for Shab-e Yalda. Freddy Mackay gives a description of the religious holiday and the dishes they eat at the back of the story. Don’t miss those. But they aren’t needed to read the story through…the first time. Or the second. Or even third. From the manner in which you meet him and the way he’s handling the shopping, you know that there’s something wrong. But the revelations about Amir unfold slowly, heartbreakingly, with hints and then facts that will crush you… little peeks into his past history and horrors over the course of the story. At points I had to stop because I just not have enough tissues nearby to go on. But go on you must. Because this beautiful story is about surviving the dark, waiting for the light, the sunrise to arrive bringing hope and love.
Mackay’s writing is exquisite. Each word, each sentence is precisely right…forming a picture in your mind and heart of the past, present, and finally, what the future may hold for Amir and husband Esmail. Waiting for the golden rays of the sunrise to put them back together again reminded me of the ancient Japanese art of mending broken pottery with a special lacquer dusted with powdered gold. Called Kintsugi which means golden repair because you can see the seams of gold glinting in the cracks of the newly whole pottery, the sun shining down on Amir and Esmail seemed to help seal and mend the broken man huddled in the darkness. So powerful, so enduring….this is a story that you will want to reread often. It will be in the top stories of 2017 for me and I want everyone to go out and read it immediately! That’s how highly I recommend Watermelon Kisses by Freddy Mackay.
Cover art is wonderful containing an important element of the story but nothing can really do justice to this story.
First Expected publication: November 29th 2017 by Mischief Corner Books, LLC