Thursday, March 28, 2019

"Unlikely Friends" by Sahar Abdulaziz

Unlikely Friends
by Sahar Abdulaziz

Unlikely Friends by Sahar Abdulaziz

This book blitz and giveaway for Unlikely Friends by Sahar Abdulaziz is hosted by Buoni Amici Press.

Irwin is not only the local Librarian; he’s also a book snob and an all-around grouch. There’s nothing he values more than his privacy. As a loner, he’s happy to be surrounded by books instead of subjected to the incessant blatherings of dysfunctional people.
The one thing Irwin despises more than people is change. He’s content in his predictable, routine existence … until a young girl barrels her way into his dreary life and turns it upside down.
Harper is witty, smart, free-spirited - but most of all, stubborn. Baffled by her need to gain his friendship, Irwin does his best to brush her off, but Harper refuses to budge. In fact, it only makes her latch onto him even more. Friendship, after all, can be found in the most unusual places.

Irwin Abernathy, barely able to conceal the venom oozing out of every pore on his craggy old face, cringed at the slightly hungover, college-aged female with smeared day-old mascara caked beneath her drooping eyelids, making her look like a rabid raccoon.
“I think this belongs to you,” he said, dangling with two fingers the powdery orange Cheeto he had found lodged between the pages of her returned library book.
“Huh? Ha! Right…” She reached over the reception desk to reclaim it, then popped it into her mouth.
Ohmygawd, ewww,” Irwin gagged, struggling to control his retching reflex. He took three rapid panting breaths until the feeling subsided. “You have a late fee,” he griped, his eyes watery but detached. “You owe a dollar-ten.”
“Do I?” The young woman fumbled through her pockets, digging for change, but only managed to collect a combination of pennies, dimes, nickels, a single quarter, and one tortoiseshell button to dump onto the desk. “Hold up,” she said, waving a crooked finger with a nail covered in chipped black polish in the air. “I have more; just give me one-hot-second.”
Irwin glanced over the woman’s shoulder at the long line forming behind her and ever so slightly bit his bottom lip. “No, take your time. Really,” he said, eyes rolling to the ceiling. “I have all day.”
If the young woman heard him, he couldn’t say, and although irritated by her total lack of social decorum, Irwin couldn’t help but be riveted, mesmerized by how easily she plunged her arm into her soft canvas bag, only to belt out a few colorful expletives when she pulled out everything but her wallet.
“Ma’am, if you could step to the side for a moment while I help the next person…”
“Damn it. I know it’s in here somewhere,” the woman mumbled, completely ignoring Irwin’s request, depositing a pen without a cap, a twisted, smooshed granola bar, and a tampon, thankfully still in its original wrapper, onto the desk. “One more second, I swear.” She shook her bag and stuck almost her entire face inside. “Come to mama,” she said, voice muffled. Irwin’s brow furrowed, but even he leaned closer in suspense.
“Ah-ha! Got it,” she crowed triumphantly and gave a cute curtsey to the sarcastic slow clapping taking place behind her and a wide smile to Irwin, who could only stare back dumbfounded. Then she whipped a twenty-dollar bill from her purse and waved it in the air. “I’ll need change.”
Irwin's nostrils flared.
A twenty-dollar bill? What do I look like—a pole dancer?
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“Each character comes to life on the pages. I truly felt I knew Irwin, he was so perfectly drawn. They have flaws and imperfections and yet they have true emotions you feel jumping at you. In a way Unlikely Friends is a coming of age story even for those characters well into adulthood.” ~ Chaz Reads
“This story had me from the first page. I kept thinking I would find a place to put it down so I could get something done - dishes, house cleaning, fixing dinner - but I had to keep reading. Looking forward to more from this author.” ~ kelly green
“Anyone who loves a great story about people who are adrift will laugh, cry, and applaud over how six special people meet and with that, alter their lives forever.” ~ Donelle M. Knudsen
“An exceptionally written cosy small town novel that takes place in the Poconos. […] I grew up in the Poconos and this book had me picturing my town library, the streets and people in it which was very relatable and comforting. I enjoyed every minute of it and you will too!” ~ Anum N.
“The book covers a few difficult topics but will keep you laughing and crying, and falling deeper in love with grouchy Irwin Abernathy and sassy teenager, Harper Leigh as they join together to fulfill many unspoken needs.” ~ DLB

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

By Lynda Dickson
Irwin is an “aging librarian, who was close to retirement”. He prefers “to exist between the pages of his books, exploring new worlds without the threat of heartache, loss, and personal catastrophe”. Fifteen-year-old Harper spends her spare time at the library, her escape from “The old dilapidated house she called home, with its sagging porch and peeled paint, could have easily been mistaken for abandoned”. She lives there with her mother Olivia. Her father Darren has just been released from prison after serving six years, and Harper’s not happy. Flashbacks reveal what happened six years ago when he was arrested on a number of drug-related charges.
When Irwin finds out about Harper’s troubled family life, he sets out to help her out with the assistance of his neighbor Cornelia. Christopher, the young man Irwin meets at the cemetery, is the sixth member of this group of unlikely friends.
The story is told from the viewpoints of Irwin, Harper, Olivia, Cornelia, and Darren, but there’s some crossover, with things mentioned that that person doesn’t “see”. I love the eccentric Cornelia and Bones the cat (“He sees and understands everything.”) and was half-expecting there to be a chapter from his viewpoint (I would have enjoyed that). But the appearance of Chris about 80% of the way into the book was forced and unnecessary, and he is the only one of the “friends” who doesn’t have a section of the book told from his viewpoint.
Unfortunately, the book tries to be humorous but mostly falls flat. It is also repetitive, with too much recounting of events to other characters and too much telling and not enough showing. The cover - while gorgeous and the thing that made me want to read this book - doesn’t suit the genre. In addition, there are numerous editing errors and it all wraps up a bit too quickly in the end.
Warnings: coarse language, drug use, domestic violence.

Some of My Favorite Lines
“Just one more colorful character to add to the book he never actually intended to write.”
“Although I find your description of me wanting, I do concede to the fact that human interaction isn’t one of my stronger suits.”

About the Author
Sahar Abdulaziz
Sahar Abdulaziz has authored eight books: But You LOOK Just Fine [Health/non-fiction], As One Door Closes (Contemporary Fiction), The Broken Half (Contemporary Fiction), Secrets That Find Us (Fiction/Thriller/Suspense), Tight Rope (Thriller/Political Fiction), Expendable (Psychological suspense), The Dino Flu (Children’s book), and Unlikely Friends (Literary Fiction). Abdulaziz’s work covers a wide range of hard-hitting topics: mood disorders (depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, PPD), domestic violence and sexual assault, marital and family dysfunction, racism, sexism, and prejudice, but most of all–survivorship. Her multidimensional characters have been described as having “substance and soul”.
Originally from New York, Sahar moved to Pennsylvania in 1993 with her growing family. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Master of Science degree in Health and Wellness Promotion and Administration, as well as a certification in Community Health Administration. In 1995, she received a Certificate in Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Crisis Intervention Counseling, and shortly after, as a Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Counselor/Advocate. She volunteered for many years as a hotline worker and counselor/advocate. In 2016, Abdulaziz received an award for Community Written Expression at the Second Annual Monroe County Image Awards and in 2018, nominated for the Rabata, “We Are Aisha” Award in the category Writer/Author. Most recently, she has guest co-hosted for Sistah Chat Radio, WESS 90.3 FM, Gynesis Radio, and is a member of the Pocono Liar’s Writer’s Club. Rep’d by Djarabi Kitabs Publishing and Limitless Publishing.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of three Kindle copies of Unlikely Friends by Sahar Abdulaziz (US only).

Amazon (Kindle Unlimited)

Featured in this post: