For Nouri and his cousin Talib, bombs, tanks and fighting are a way of life. In their Baghdad neighborhood, war is everywhere. But the Americans aren’t their only enemies. Fighting between the Sunnis and the Shiites becomes ever more prevalent as tensions continue to rise. The lines have been drawn, and they cannot be erased. Nouri is a Shiite, but Talib is half Sunni. Both are fiercely loyal to their beliefs, yet they hold to loyalties within their family as well. As tensions rise between the factions, war threatens to tear their family apart. But when snow falls on Baghdad in early 2008, for a moment, fighting ceases and the two cousins dare to imagine a world without war.
Against this backdrop, Marsden paints a picture of real people who struggle to define themselves in opposition to each other. As the story unfolds in alternating viewpoints, we see the fallacy behind the divisions we create in society. As Nouri and Talib discover that the enemies they are supposed to hate include family members they’ve always loved, the lines that divide them no longer make sense, and we begin to see the humanity on both sides of the conflict. This book is a powerful reminder that, even in times of war, “the enemy” is no less human than we are.