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Reviewed by Donna Gielow McFarland for Readers' Favorite
The Fearful Lion by Almas Akhtar is the compelling life story of a second generation immigrant to the United States. It begins in the present, as Dr. Osama Ali Khan (aka Oz) celebrates his publication of a medical research paper. He reflects on the journey that brought him to that place, and the rest of the story is in flashbacks, beginning with the wedding of his parents in Pakistan. Osama has many challenges to overcome, including his battle with debilitating anxiety which began when he was a child. The story weaves in political history, most notably the elections of various presidents and 9/11, and readers of a certain age will recall the events for themselves. The portrayal of what 9/11 was like for Americans of East Asian ancestry is particularly well done.
I found the enlightening cultural references in The Fearful Lion fascinating, and I enjoyed all the fact-based politics sprinkled throughout the story. One scene made me cry, and I don’t often cry while reading a book. The quality of Almas Akhtar’s writing is a little uneven, but most of it is very good. There are some passages that seem almost like asides as the author discusses psychological effects and those seem a little out of place. The Fearful Lion reads so much like a memoir that it’s hard to believe it’s a work of fiction! I felt the ending wrapped up too quickly and I wanted to know what happens next. Perhaps Almas Akhtar will write a sequel.