Thursday, June 22, 2017
Published June 2017 by Penguin Publishing
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Both Cassie Hugo and Margaret Brickshaw dutifully followed their soldier husbands to the U.S. embassy in Jordan, but that’s about all the women have in common. After two years, Cassie’s become an expert on the rules, but newly arrived Margaret sees only her chance to explore. So when a fender-bender sends Margaret to the local police station, Cassie reluctantly agrees to watch Margaret’s toddler son. But as the hours pass, Cassie’s boredom and frustration turn to fear: Why isn’t Margaret answering her phone, and why is it taking so long to sort out a routine accident? Snooping around Margaret’s apartment, Cassie begins to question not only her friend’s whereabouts but also her own role in Margaret’s disappearance.
Fallon's You Know When The Men Are Gone, a collection of short stories about the people of Fort Hood (my review), was one of my favorite books of 2014. In her first novel, Fallon returns to what she knows, the people who live on the periphery of the action. In The Confusion of Languages, she draws on her own experiences as an Army wife in Jordan to craft her tale of friendship, marriage, and communication.
Fallon has managed to combine the intimate details of a friendship and two marriages with the tension of a mystery that builds throughout the book. This is a book about the little things we do and say but it's also about the things that are left unsaid and how those things can tear life apart.
Back and forth we go, between the minutes ticking off as Cassie waits for Margaret to return and the pages of Margaret's journal which Cassie begins reading while she impatiently waits. Back and forth we go, too, between the way we feel about these two women.
Cassie has longed to be a mother for so long that when she gets the opportunity to mentor Margaret, she treats her much more as a child than a friend. But is she right to insist that Margaret follow the rules just as she has, to stay in the safe places? Or, by following the U. S. Embassy's guidelines, are Americans living in Jordan missing out on the opportunity to connect with the people of Jordan, to create a greater bond? There is no easy answer, as it turns out.
The Confusion of Languages is not just about the confusion when people of two different languages try to communicate. It's the confusion caused by two cultures meeting and the confusion between people of very different backgrounds trying to build a relationship.