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Staff Picks

An Emotion of Great Delight

Lauren Kohlenberg

May 27, 2021

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How do you walk through sorrow so deep that you cannot see past it? How do you find yourself when it feels like the world is standing against you?

Tahereh Mafi’s second YA contemporary novel, An Emotion of Great Delight, is a story of grief and hope in a time of uncertainty. The novel takes place in 2003, shortly after the US declares war on Iraq.

Following the death of her brother, Shadi’s world is fractured. She grapples with her identity and what it means to be a part of the Muslim community when so many are cutting all visible ties. Her best friend has stopped wearing hijab and has all but removed herself from Shadi’s life.

Poisoned by her grief, Shadi attempts to ascertain a sense of stability by soldiering on and refusing to speak about it. She is determined to be the glue holding the fragments of her life and family together, believing that pushing herself to unsustainable limits is the only way through. She quickly learns that swallowing one’s pain only leaves it free to devour us from the inside.

How do you walk through sorrow so deep that you cannot see past it? How do you find yourself when it feels like the world is standing against you?

Wrought with emotion and filled with ­­­­­beauty, An Emotion of Great Delight is a tale of both pain and joy; a map for navigating the shattering planes of everything you once knew to be true. In a world that is always asking us to be more of something, Mafi expertly asks the question: how to be enough.

About The Author

Lauren Kohlenberg loves Lake Michigan, homemade croissants, and her dog Mia. She is a Jeopardy! enthusiast, podcast-lover, and pastry connoisseur. Lauren has always been an avid reader and loves everything from poetry to fantasy. Outside of work, she makes time for fitness, writing, and traveling. She runs a thriving baking Instagram, loves a good literary pun, and she will always ask about your dog.

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