Have you ever run across a book, one that you had not known even existed, but knew from the instant you picked it up that you had to read it, and read it soon? I don't know quite how to explain that feeling, but I am willing to bet that many of you know exactly what I'm trying to describe. Sometimes it just feels right.
It happened to me at the library this evening as I was walking toward the scanner to make my selections legal. There is always a shelf or two of "New Fiction" within a few feet of the scanners and I usually make a pass through the books to see what is available. This time I spotted a debut novel by Zoe Ferraris called Finding Nouf and I had to pick it up because the "Nouf" part of its title rang some kind of bell, a memory of all the years I spent working in the Sahara Desert among mostly Arab Muslims of similar-sounding names, I suppose.
A quick look at the premise of the book (young Saudi girl drowns in the desert and only a friend of the family seems skeptical about the cornoner's official verdict that her death was accidental) and I was hooked. I've read the first four chapters now and, so far, it is everything I hoped it would be. It is an inside look into a culture few Westerners ever get close to, written by a woman who married into it and lived in it before divorce brought her back to the United States.
My only fear at this point, and it has happened to me several times, is that the book will start to lose its magic appeal somewhere around the halfway point (an authoritative one-star review on the Amazon.com site has me particularly concerned), leaving me disappointed that it turned out to be less than it could have been. But that's part of the great Book Chase we are on, isn't it? This is the kind of experience that keeps me enthusiastically turning pages.