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Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite
Saving Jahan by Hans Joseph Fellmann is written in a haunting voice and atmospheric style, following Johann Felmanstien who, as a member of the Peace Corps, is sent to teach English in Turkmenistan for two years. Johann loves to party and he drinks a lot, which has negative repercussions on his career. He meets Jahan, a simple, hardworking girl, living for her family. She provides for her sick mother and three siblings. As their friendship grows stronger, Jahan shares her dream of escaping the hellhole that is Turkmenistan, a country in which women are treated like servants. Johann isn’t enthusiastic at first, but he eventually comes to believe that helping Jahan can be a form of redemption for him. Thus begins an adventure filled with eye-opening truths, self-discovery, and freedom.
Hans Joseph Fellmann paints a powerful image of Turkmenistan just after the death of the country’s totalitarian dictator, Saparmurat Niyazov, the madman of Asia. I loved the way the background to Jahan’s life is written and the role she plays in the story. She is the symbol of women struggling in an environment that is oppressive. The story features powerful themes — love, freedom, political oppression, family, and travel — and these themes are so skillfully written into the story that readers are touched by them in a natural way. Saving Jahan is well-plotted and written in beautiful prose. I loved the characters, the emotional pulse of the story, and the author’s unique literary voice. Saving Jahan is original and filled with realistic characters, a plot that has strong historical hints, and a setting that is detailed.