DEBUT DISTRICT is a regular feature on Artsy Draft in which I post appreciation towards debut releases through author interview, book blitz, listopia, review, and other related content.
I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi
Seven days. Seven days. The Earth might end in seven days.
When news stations start reporting that Earth has been contacted by a planet named Alma, the world is abuzz with rumors that the alien entity is giving mankind only few days to live before they hit the kill switch on civilization.
For high school truant Jesse Hewitt, though, nothing has ever felt permanent. Not the guys he hooks up with. Not the jobs his underpaid mom works so hard to hold down. Life has dealt him one bad blow after another — so what does it matter if it all ends now? Cate Collins, on the other hand, is desperate to use this time to find the father she’s never met, the man she grew up hearing wild stories about, most of which she didn’t believe. And then there’s Adeem Khan. While coding and computer programming have always come easily to him, forgiveness doesn’t. He can’t seem to forgive his sister for leaving, even though it’s his last chance.
With only seven days to face their truths and right their wrongs, Jesse, Cate, and Adeem’s paths collide even as their worlds are pulled apart.
Thank you HarperTeen for providing me with an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.
Trigger Warning: Active shooter, anxiety, depression, homophobia, mention of suicide attempt, racism, violence.
what is it about?
It’s seven days before the world ends because of an alien invasion as our three characters tried their best to deal with it in their own ways. Adeem tried to seek for his runaway sister. Cate tried to seek the shadow of a father she never met. And Jesse tried to seek for a way to get him and his mom out of debts. But maybe, these three strangers weren’t that different, as the three of them seek nothing but the truth for their unanswered questions. And maybe, they weren’t a stranger to each other after all.
what do I think about it?
I Hope You Get This Message is one of the most heartfelt books that I read this year, and I swear that I’m not being overdramatic when I’m stating this. What really piqued my interest at first to start reading this book is the urgency behind ‘the world is ending in seven days’ as the three characters tried to redeem whatever it is that they’ve been struggling with. It is really interesting when you’re thinking about it. What you’re going to do if you know that you only have seven days left to be alive? What’s your deepest desire? What’s your unanswered question?
Obviously, just from its short blurbs, this book is very heavily centered on its characters and their relationships. Although not going to lie, the science-fiction bits of the alien invasion was also very well-written and detailed, and I really enjoyed that they did trial after trial to determine the faith of human being. I certainly didn’t expect the aliens to be highly considerate, but I was touched. If Rishi’s going to write sci-fi for her next book, then I can assure you that I’d be the first in line to pre-order it.
But the thing about the end of the world was this: either everything mattered, or nothing did.
Even days after I read this book, I’ve been thinking about it a lot. As I mentioned before, human interactions and relationships were the highlights of this story. I thoroughly enjoyed each journeythat the characters went through in order to face the end of the world. Adeem is the character that I could relate to the most, as we’re both Muslims and we both have siblings. His back and forth intention for looking at his runaway sister was understandable, and I applaud Rishi for being able to convey the complexity of brother-sister relationships. As for Cate, I feel deeply upset about her struggles. One is too young to deal with a mother who suffered schizophrenia while also at loss for a figure of a father. Her guilts for not doing enough, either for taking care of her mother during their last days on Earth or for not seeking her father, was heartbreaking. And as for Jesse, his daily struggles to simply stay alive with his mother while also dealing with anxiety and depression were too much to bear for a young man, or even for anyone, really.
Be kind, Adi. Life’s too exhausting as it is to hold on to anger so tightly.
The message that really shined through this story that also has been sitting in the back of my mind for the past couple days, is how people going to fully lean on hope when they realized that they don’t have anything else to lean on. And that they are willing to give their everything to brings up their hope as high as possible. Although it might seem foolish at glance, but it’s the reality of human beings.
I Hope You Get This Message is a sincere and powerful debut that will tear down your emotions. Among its intensity, Rishi also successfully served witty banter and words of wisdom among its characters that will be hard to forget.
what’s the verdict?
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what did others say about this book?
Angela @ BookPage said: “This nuanced and realistic story (with a twist of science fiction) is driven not merely by Jesse, Cate and Adeem’s journeys, but by the moments where those journeys intersect.”
Lili @ Utopia State of Mind said: “I Hope You Get This Message is quiet, introspective, character driven. It’s about family and forgiveness in the shadow of the end of the world.”
Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight said: “The story itself is powerful and moving, even hopeful in spite of the circumstances.”
Are you thinking about adding I Hope You Get This Message into your next reading list?