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31 Hours

3.29  ·  Rating details ·  485 Ratings  ·  121 Reviews
A woman in New York awakens knowing, as deeply as a mother’s blood can know, that her grown son is in danger. She has not heard from him in weeks. His name is Jonas. His girlfriend, Vic, doesn’t know what she has done wrong, but Jonas won’t answer his cell phone. We soon learn that Jonas is isolated in a safe-house apartment in New York City, pondering his conversion to Is ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published September 8th 2009 by Unbridled Books (first published January 1st 2009)
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Rating details
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Christy Lockstein
Aug 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
31 Hours by Masha Hamilton is a story that will haunt readers long after the covers are closed. Carol Meitzner wakes up suddenly one night with a mother's intuition that something is incredibly wrong with her twenty-one year old son, Jonas. She hasn't heard from him in over a week, which is unusual for the close pair, but this goes beyond the normal worries of a mother. For the next 31 hours, she will try to find him before something, she doesn't know what, goes irrevocably wrong. While Carol lo ...more
Elevate Difference
Dec 13, 2009 rated it it was ok
Following the event, I promised myself I would never read "a 9/11 book," fiction or not. Having admitted that, I can't explain what exactly led me to almost eagerly pick up John Updike's Terrorist in the year it was published, save for the vague hope that this was a writer who could help make some sense out of a senseless situation. As long as I was breaking my vow, lifting the corner of Pandora's box long enough to peak in, I wanted assurance the hands of the author were skilled, strong hands - ...more
Sep 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a devastatingly good read about a group of loosely-connected people in New York City over a period of (you guessed it) thirty-one hours. We meet three families and learn how they overlap: Sonny and his sister; Jonas and his parents; the sisters Vic, Mara and their parents, all pretty regular folks traveling a Manhattan and Brooklyn landscape that is quite familiar (and more familiar to me than the settings of Hamilton's earlier, terrific, novels). Jonas is a boy like I can imagine one of ...more
Jul 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book is so beautifully written it nearly took my breath away. The tension grows so slowly as the reader gradually learns of the life of Jonas Meitzner and the "assignment" he has undertaken, the important people in his life, and a most likeable homeless man who haunts the subways of New York. Hamilton creates some of the most beautiful metaphors I've ever read. I love this book, and it is so timely, so relevant to our troubled times.
Apr 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
In 2006, I read and reviewed The Attack by Yasmina Khadra, a book that came to mind after I finished reading Masha Hamilton's 31 Hours. That particular book is about the aftermath of a suicide bombing, a doctor discovering he had not known his troubled wife as well as he thought he had only after her death. He goes on a mission to find out why she became a suicide bomber. Masha Hamilton offers a similar perspective in 31 Hours, only she captures the hours when a young man, 21 year old Jonas, is ...more
Aug 11, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2009
This review was originally posted on my review blog : Falling Off The Shelf.

When I first read the synopsis of this book, I was immediately interested, and just knew that I had to know what was going to happen in this novel. Within reading the first few pages I was already intrigued, and had a hard time putting the book down. I was also confused, to think that a person as young as Jonas could let such thoughts flow through his brain. I was, and am still angry with the character of Jonas for think
Jan 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
31 Hours offers disturbing insight into a world few people know much about.

Right from the start, this quick read creates a fantastic sense of urgency - Carol's son Jonas is missing and she senses something is not right with him. Her intuition proves true, although she does not know it yet, as Jonas is preparing himself to carry out an extreme mission for the Islam faith. The chapters rotate through points of view from a number of characters, most of which we learn deeply care for Jonas. Among th
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommended to Jessica by: BC- Alicia
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 15, 2011 rated it liked it
A beautifully written story about a disillusioned young American man, drawn to the moral righteousness of Islam as introduced to him by a terrorist organizer. As Jonas secretly prepares for the terrorist act he has committed to taking in 31 hours, a vivid picture of New York City emerges in alternating chapters about Jonas's mother, his best friend and her sister, and a homeless man who works the subway and observes its unique "life". Hamilton's portrayal of a home-grown but very human terrorist ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
This book gradually became more and more annoying to me. By the time I had about 100 pages left to read, I just wanted it to be over. I'll give it two stars because the writing itself was pretty decent. The one redeeming thing about it is the part dealing with Sonny Hirt. I liked him, and I liked getting a glimpse of subway/street life for the homeless in NYC. Other than that, the book mostly just irritated me, and it never became clear what the author was trying to say with a story that ultimat ...more
Jul 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Laura by: Caitlin at Unbidled Books/Shelf Awareness
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 05, 2009 rated it liked it
This book is centered around Jonas and his disappearance and assignment that he thinks will change the world. Much of this takes place around the New York subway system and the tension builds throughout the book towards the convergence of events and people. We are introduced to the important people in Jonas' life and the effect his disappearance has on all of them. This is a compact book that will leave you gasping.
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nicole Bonia
Sep 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
When Carol Meitzner wakes up in the middle of the night she is as sure as anything that her son, Jonas, is in danger. Even though she tries to keep calm and give her 21-year old a healthy amount of space in which to live his life and make his own decisions, in the back of her mind she knows that it’s not like him to be out of touch with her. She just knows that she has to get to him. Carol does the best she can to keep her fear in check and to make discrete inquiries into Jonas’ possible whereab ...more
Masha Hamilton's "31 Hours" is a powerful novel that spares nothing to discuss terrorism, American society, growing up, letting go, first love, and standing up for what you believe in, even if no one you love will understand.

The novel chronicles the 31 hours leading up to the main character Jonas' scheduled detonation of the explosive vest he is wearing in the New York City subway system. The events of the 31 hours are divided by chapters that represent Jonas, his best friend/love interest Vic
Literary Mama
Feb 15, 2012 added it
Shelves: fiction
"Terrorism did not begin with 9-11. Even before that horrifying day, people had blown themselves up in cafes and markets. But those were foreign tragedies, they happened in far-flung places, and did not seize our attention like 9-11. The story of September 11th is our own spectacular narrative, and several American novelists have made their bids to respond, among them Masha Hamilton, who creates a home-grown bomber in her latest novel, 31 Hours.

"This is the story of Jonas, a 21-year-old American
Sep 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Jonas Meitzer is isolated from his family, friends, and girlfriend. He is preparing for a mission that could be the next 9/11. While he awaits his next set of orders, he applies the training he learned while in Pakistan. For someone who is about to sacrifice everything, Jonas has a very Zen like attitude about him.

Carol Meitzner has not heard from her son in a while. This is unusual as her relationship with her son is a good one. Mrs. Meitzner wakes up from a dead sleep at about three am. Call
Kathy (Bermudaonion)
Jun 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Twenty-one year old Jonas is a college student living away from home. He can’t seem to find his place in the world and his search for answers has led him to explore different religions.

Ever since his parents divorced, Jonas has been pretty close to his mother, Carol, and usually keeps in touch with her. Carol awakens in the middle of the night with a sense of dread, and realizes she hasn’t heard from him in a while. She realized that lately

"Jonas had seemed so trouble. Too vulnerable, too raw, e
Jul 05, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010, pbs-sent
This book was really interesting to me. The author really tries hard to make Jonas a sympathetic character even though he's been trained to blow up the NYC subway system. I learned a lot from the book about Islam, and in many places the religion is painted in a good light (for instance, in Mahmoud's phone call with his father). Jonas seems to feel that he takes part in ALL religions, but at the same time, in none.

I did not like Jonas' mother character. Too much "motherly intuition" and plus she
Sep 09, 2009 rated it liked it
"A woman in New York awakens knowing, as deeply as a mother’s blood can know, that her grown son is in danger. She has not heard from him in weeks. His name is Jonas. His girlfriend, Vic, doesn’t know what she has done wrong, but Jonas won’t answer his cell phone. We soon learn that Jonas is isolated in a safe-house apartment in New York City, pondering his conversion to Islam and his experiences training in Pakistan, preparing for the violent action he has been instructed to take in 31 hours."

Laura de Leon
Aug 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: review-copy
I'd expected 31 Hours to be high on the action. The action wasn't physical, it was all inside the character's heads.

I found it to be highly compelling reading. I was amazed at how real all of the characters were. I felt like I got to know all of them.

This isn't to say I never got confused by the book. I'd frequently have to pause at the beginning of a chapter to orient myself as to who I was dealing with-- each chapter featured a different character, out of a very large cast.

As I jumped from c
Jan 17, 2010 rated it liked it

Masha Hamilton said 'you either love or hate her endings'. In the Camel Bookmobile I accepted the ending but for 31 hours I was disappointed. I wanted more!! I enjoyed the book, although felt it could have been developed much more.
The story is about a 20 yr old man, Josh (?), who is preparing to become a suicide bomber, blowing up a subway in New York. The story tells a bit about how he met Masoud, went to Pakistan and got caught up in a feeling of community which then caused him to agree to be
Dec 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
Carol Meitzner wakes with a feeling of dread. She knows in her heart that her 21 year old son, Jonas, is in trouble. She doesn’t know what kind of trouble or how much, but he has not been returning her calls. Carol soon learns that his girlfriend, Vic, has not seen or heard from him recently, either. Jonas’s father doesn’t think they should be so worried. Wrong. In 31 hours, their son Jonas and 6 others are planning to walk into key terminals of the NYC subway system and detonate explosive vest ...more
Sep 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookclub
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Beth Anne
May 12, 2011 rated it really liked it

this is an extremely tough book to review. it's disturbing, sad, thought provoking...and then the ending. it blew me away. i know i will be thinking about this story for a long time. it's one of those books that won't leave me alone for quite a while.

i loved mara. she was my favorite character. i felt so horrible for her from the first moment we met her. and because i loved her so much, i ended up disliking vic because she basically walks away from mara...leaving her to clean up a family m
3.25 stars

21-year old Jonas has been missing for a few days and his mother, Carol, is getting worried. Little does she know that Jonas has retreated from everyone he knows and loves because he has something planned in 31 hours.

That's the main plot in the book. We meet other characters as we go: Jonas's girlfriend, Vic and her family - her younger sister, Mara, and their parents, who have recently gotten divorced. Sonny is a homeless man, who spends all his time on the New York subway. He has a
Good Book Fairy
Dec 05, 2009 rated it liked it
Masha, Masha, Masha...okay, i always wanted to say that....
i enjoyed this book a lot, however, i needed this book to be longer to give it more stars. I hate canned endings and neatly wrapped up stories, but this ending left me needing more. i grew too close to vic, mara and sonny to not hear what happened to them. did they get off the train, did the police officer listen to sonny?, did carol and jake find solace in eachother after this ordeal. i hate to think that jonas really went through with
Oct 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
I'm very impressed with this book. Hamilton is a sophisticated, talented writer who has created characters worth knowing, and whose inner conflicts drive the story, rather than a manipulated plot. The book is horrific in the sense of how her characters perceive the world, not in any blatant, bloody way. And it could have gone that route, but Hamilton was wise to end the story where she did. We've already seen the terror once we've read the last page.
I loved the character of Sonny, feel like I'v
Jan 05, 2010 rated it liked it
I am planing a longer blog post on this but my first reaction was interesting and well done but not without its problems.

Hamilton does a great job with the characters and keeping the tension and suspense building as the 31 hours of the title play out. You really feel like you are getting to know actual New Yorkers and their perspectives; and how their lives play out in this famous city. The alternating chapters structure works and the voices are clear and distinct.

But the central character Jonas
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Masha Hamilton is the author of five novels: Staircase of a Thousand Steps, (2001) a Booksense pick by independent booksellers and a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection; The Distance Between Us, (2004) named one of the best books of the year by Library Journal, The Camel Bookmobile, (2007) also a Booksense pick, and 31 Hours, named by the Washington Post as one of the best book ...more
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