Hope Has Two Daughters is an historical fiction story which takes place almost entirely in Tunis, Tunisia. It is the story of two revolts at two different times in history, the first — the Bread Riots of 1984, the second the Arab Spring of 2010. The first is told in the words of Nadia, a young girl about to complete her matriculation at the Lycée; the second is told from the point of view of Lila, Nadia’s daughter who has come to Tunis reluctantly to improve her Arabic language skills and vocabulary. But like her mother before her, Lila soon gets caught up with a small group of students who want to rid themselves of an oppressive regime and this time have the means of technology to help them organize students and labour unions across their country.
Right from the very first page of this novel, you realize that Nadia is caught up in a very different world from what western Europeans and N. Americans are familiar with, and even for Nadia, her day is different from a normal day. She feels the tension and knows something is not right but is unaware of how her life is about to change — the riots are about to begin and her Lycée is about to be under attack. Her best friend, Neila, is absent from school — Neila, whose father beats her and who plans to run off one day soon and marry her boyfriend, Mounir. But, Mounir is involved in the riots and within hours is arrested, beaten, and imprisoned. Nadia starts to understand the fear and oppression of the poor in her country and how the regime perpetuates poverty. She begins to rebel in her own way. Soon, escape to Canada is her only way to survive.
Lila knows next to nothing about her mother’s past, her family, and the rumblings of dissatisfaction within Tunisia when she arrives to stay with Aunt Neila and Uncle Mounir to study the Arabic language for the summer. She finds the classes boring and her classmates more interested in culture than language — enjoying the nightlife and then talking about it in class in french instead of focusing on learning Arabic. The language of sex is, after all, universal. When Lila tries to use an Internet café and runs into language/cultural difficulties, a wealthy young neighbour, Donia, comes to her rescue and Lila cautiously reaches out to grasp her friendship. Soon Lila is caught up with Donia’s friends and is not only learning everyday Arabic but also the language of dissent.
The similarities between the two revolts and the two daughters is striking throughout and while Lila thinks her mother will be frantic with worry if she finds out how she is becoming involved in revolution, she soon discovers that she and her mother are kindred spirits. This is the story of revolution, survival, hope, and healing — but mostly of hope. It is full of all the emotions of rebellion and the coming of age of both Lila and Tunisia. It is the fulfillment of the hope of those who seek a better life and are willing to take a chance. Mazigh says her story is not autobiographical but it is based on her personal knowledge and the history of her country. It is a riveting tale about women coming of age at pivotal moments of history and how hope can change the future. * * * * *
To read the introduction and a teaser from this novel, click here.