Laura's Reviews > The Submission

The Submission by Amy Waldman
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's review
Feb 27, 2012

really liked it

"The Submission" is about all kinds of submissions. The first is a design submission for a 9-11 Memorial, the winning submission, which turns out to have been submitted by a Muslim. The second submission is the place of Islam -- which in Arabic literally means "submission" -- in America, and the related debate that the winning Memorial designer inadvertently launches. The third submission is how characters submit or not to this debate and its repercussions. This cast of characters ranges across the political and religious spectrums, from grieving 9-11 family members, to politicians on the make, to ambitious reporters, to a Bangladeshi widow living illegally in New York with her own secret.

The book, published in 2011, creates an entirely believable scenario and especially echoes the Ground Zero Mosque furor. Most of the characters' views are realistic and nuanced; they muddle through issues of ambition, tolerance, idealism, fear and grief in ways that are human, relatable, and often tragic.

I wish I could give this book 4.5 stars. I can tell it's a linger-er that will stay with me. Both the characters and the ideas will, I think, take up permanent space in my brain. But the plot was a bit slow-moving, and I wonder if to someone with different political beliefs would think it unfairly caricaturing. (I'd love to know!) From my perspective, even the distasteful characters had really wonderful depth and richly-painted motives.

It's not a cheerful book. But it is an excellent book, well-written, intelligent, and evocative. Forget "Scarlet Letter" - this is what kids should be reading in high school.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Kacy Faulconer What I loved about the ending was the little cairn the boy builds in the final version of the garden!


Laura Oh, what a great point. Especially since his other cairn got taken by mean what's-his-name. Interesting themes there.


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