I thoroughly enjoyed the writing and storytelling of LET'S GO SWIMMING ON DOOMSDAY. Ms. Anderson has an ear for cadence and a fine sense for apt descriptions within her lean style. She places you inside a sixteen-year-old Somalia boy floating beneath the sparkling ocean right at the start, and you’re immediately comfortable. At first, I was put off by her jumbled timelines but everything worked out in the end. I may have chosen differently but every author is allowed to tell their story in their own way.
Abdi, the main character, who is caught between numerous contradictory sides, is attractive and compelling. He is flawed and often at a loss but he is ever insightful, charming and understandable. Part of what I enjoyed about Abdi was that his solutions for his dilemmas were always suited to his age and experience; by that I mean, they were seldom the finest, but he worked tirelessly with them anyway.
The flavors of the local culture, foods and languages, and the messy political realities of daily life in modern Somalia and neighboring Kenya, were great strengths in the book. Ms. Anderson does an admirable job of submerging you into the local life and dangers of today’s Mogadishu. At the same time, she stays painfully true to the irritations and fears, awkward social skills and indecisions of an actual sixteen-year-old fugitive at the crossroads of his life. In other words, Abdi is always Abdi and never some author’s construct.
The story keeps the readers on their toes as it takes many twists and turns before finally resolving itself. The book is gritty and doesn’t shy away from the uncomfortable darkness of extremism or the amorality of foreign entanglements. Lives are disrupted, innocents abused and families destroyed. People die. The novel is by no means an easy read, but I think it is a work well worth your time.
I recommend LET'S GO SWIMMING ON DOOMSDAY.