Keys to Tetouan by Mois Benarroch

This is the first book that I got to read from online book club. The reason I settled on this book, is because I haven’t yet read any story from Morocco so I was excited when I settled for it as I was looking for a different setting.

This book is the story of about a family of Jews and their journey through time. It shows their interaction with different cultures and how they adjust to different cultures as they migrate to different countries in search of a better life. Migration, living as an immigrant in exile, the Jewish culture are themes explored in this book.

Through the passage of time and generations, we see how the family was in search of an identity where ever they ended up. As Jews they were exiled from one country to another and in each of these countries, they struggled to identify with the country’s origin and in turn blend in with their original identity. The narrators focused so much on their future lives that they forgot to enjoy their present. They forgot to enjoy where they were then.

The story was difficult to follow. The different points of views in the story didn’t work for me. I kept losing track of the story. I couldn’t tell who said what and what was said. There were also many anecdotes that it was hard to connect the dots from one story to another.

Being a plot driven story, the journey through time, places and cultures made it a story with very good potential. However the book had a lot of grammatical and punctuation errors. There were hardly any full stops and the sentences were very long. In addition to the many point of views, the sentences made it difficult to understand the narrative.

In summary, despite the reading challenges mentioned above, I felt the book had an excellent narrative depicting Jewish history and culture and would have provided a refreshing look to a story with history in Morocco and all the countries that the narrators had to go and live in during their exile.

An observation I made was on a quote that stood out for me:

This book has a lot of grammar mistakes because the writer is very strict with don’t do deeds, this book is for Middle Eastern readers because it was written by a man of the Maghreb…….

With the beautiful plot line I ask myself was I the intended audience for this book?

I give the book a 2 out of 4 rating based on the grammatical errors and the reading difficulty.








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