I had so many reactions while reading Call Me Zebra by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi. I was so excited to read a book about the love of literature. Then I quickly became frustrated, confused at times, and often found myself saying “this character is crazy!” In the end I came to really feel for the characters in this story and it became a book I enjoyed.
Call Me Zebra is the story of a young woman named Zebra, a name she gives herself, born into a family of anarchists, atheists and autodidacts. Her families first commandment is Love Nothing Except Literature. They believe they are designed to receive and transmit literary signals. In other words they take the love of literature to a whole other level! After the death of her father Zebra becomes the only living Hosseini and so embarks on many journeys, both literal and figurative, to discover her purpose. Along the way she meets Ludo who complicates that mission in ways that are not typical.
Zebra was such a complicated character for me. At first I thought she was crazy, then I felt sorry for her. I was often so frustrated with her and I thought she was extremely hypocritical. At times she was offensive, but in the end I felt hopeful for her. Zebra is just trying to figure out who she is and her place in the world. She tries to figure this out through literature but life and her interactions with other people make it difficult for her. The only love she has felt is from literature and really I think her whole journey is a search for love. Zebra and what I felt about her correlated with how I felt about the book. When I was frustrated with her, I was frustrated with the book. When she offended me, the book offended me. When I finally came to an understanding of Zebra, I felt like I understood the book.
The story has a stream of consciousness narrative feel to it and there were many times it was hard to keep up with the mind of Zebra making it not a light read. But if you are looking for a great journey story and a book that will cause you to think then I think you should read this. I think it would make a great book club book with many interesting things to discuss.
My copy of Call Me Zebra was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank You!
Have you read a book where your feelings about a character were constantly changing? Would love to hear about it in the comments below!