"Even in the Breaks" by Hend Hegazi — A Review
Updated: Feb 4
Even in the Breaks is the third novel of Hend Hegazi, an Egyptian-American Muslim writer who lives in Alexandria, Egypt with her husband and four children. You can read about her first two novels Normal Calm and Behind Pickets here and here.
Even in the Breaks revolves around the opposing personalities of Ayda and Didi, the schemes of some corporate employers, employees, and some scrupulous and shady business owners. The summary of the book says this below:
Ayda is an uncompromising, salacious woman who focuses solely on her work. She gets close to no one, and no one gets close to her. Didi, on the other hand, is fun loving and family oriented. She looks forward to the day when she and her husband will become parents. When tragedy strikes unexpectedly, Didi disappears and Ayda becomes the guardian of a young girl named Shams—a young girl who, in all societal respects, she should resent. As Shams’s presence in Ayda’s life induces transformative consequences, the truth behind the two women’s relationship is revealed. Even in the Breaks is the story of the strength born when women refuse to let adversity defeat them.
Didi, a practicing Muslim corporate worker, is courted by Saef; another corporate worker. The latter is not a practicing Muslim. However, in time, Didi rubs off on him and soon they become lovebirds. The major flaw in their lives is that they are both keeping secrets from each other. On the scale, both secrets have marriage breaking weight. However, each none the wiser, keeps the truth to her/himself until their mutual actions suddenly upend their relationship. This becomes the turning point for Didi who is a by the book person.
Ayda, on the other hand, a hardworking woman Head Designer of a very successful corporate firm, climbed the corporate ladder by taking her own destiny into her own hands since the corporate red tape she faced with her womanizer boss wasn't going to easily hand her the job she deserves on a gold platter. Her parents' lives were also turned upside down when an unscrupulous entrepreneur robbed them blind. Rendered an orphan, she pressed on life and built a facade and a barrier around herself. Her team recognized her alienating and loner nature but, "They all agreed it was better to work beneath an unfriendly boss who recognized your work than to work with a smiling hypocrite who’d take credit for it."
On top of that, the energy she puts into her job is partly fueled by the bitterness that cloaked her after the actions of an unfaithful husband several years ago left her heart in pieces.
When the past collides with the present, Ayda, Didi, and Shams take an emotional blow. And it's interesting to see how Hegazi unfolds the truth behind these three names.
In Even in the Breaks, Hegazi also discusses current societal issues like the Syrian war that left plenty of refugees in its waking; many without a family. Islamophobia, the fear of hijab wearing women, the fear hijab wearing women and their entourage also face, the joys of entrepreneurship, marriage, love, infertility, loss, loyalty, cheating, rizq, charity, strong will, and the fact that everything we have in dunya is a temporary gift are also brushed upon among many other topics like art and the love of books.
In all, Even in the Breaks is a good read with a stunning book cover depicting resilience and the kintsugi concept of embracing the imperfect or the flaw to perfection masha'Allah.
Our Rating: 4/5