After Fernando Benzimra father dies, he discovers a letter that reveals to him that he is of Jewish background, tracing his roots from Tetouan. He finds it shocking why his father kept his heritage a secret and he starts to search for clues and reaches out for his uncle, Moshe Benzimra. He conducts a couple of search on the internet that reveals to him that Jews were once oppressed in Spain so much to the extent that they were ordered to either convert or leave the country. Many Jews were forced to leave and many settled in Tetouan. The author’s parents also settled in Tetouan when he was 13 years.
The narrator now adjusted to Tetouan life wants to live a life that he has come to know, but his mother is determined and also passionate about the freedom of her family, she is also very convincing in her arguments. I profoundly sympathize with the narrator, what all his family had to endure to secure freedom.
The story is narrated from the first person perspective thus creating a strong bond/connection between the narrator and the readers. The novel focuses on the themes of Jewish exile and culture. The narrative is mainly drawn from the time when the Jews were exiled from Spain during the 16th century. The geographical focus being Tetouan, a city in Morocco and one of the closest towns to Spain, considerably being one of the main reasons why the Fernando ancestors settled there.
Despite its ability to provoke emotions and keep the readers engaged, I feel that the book requires thorough professional editing. There are some errors that I noticed some mistakes that could otherwise have been avoided if a professional editing had been put in place
1. Spelling problems
“school at launch breaks” instead of lunch breaks Page 59
2. Phrasing that doesn't make sense
“but why did I feel in exile when I was in Jerusalem” Page 107
I also found some difficulties in grasping the continuity of the story. It bounces back and forth such that at some point I found myself getting lost in between. I rate this book 3 out of 4. I gave the book three stars because the central themes of the books are vividly described in detail. I found the first person perspective creating a deep connection better than if it would have been written in the second or third point of views. I was happy with how Fernando was able to trace his family roots without missing out some critical details. I was delighted to learn about the Jewish heritage, having a glimpse of their life, and how they came to me was fascinating.
I can recommend this book to readers who fancy historical novels, stories presented with facts. On the other hand, I feel that the book would not be appealing to readers who have no passion for historical reading books with facts, books with religion as a theme.
Keys to Tetouan
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