Harvesting Hope, by Christian Ayling

Reviewed by Kathryn Duncan

Happy with her life, young Muslim woman Yasemin Sandulli and her family are thrust into the media spotlight after her brother Ismet is wrongfully accused of murder. Until then, Yasemin had not been subjected to the racial torment sometimes faced by Muslims in today’s society and her experience can only be described as eye opening and frightening.

Novella Harvesting Hope is a compelling story of the Sandulli family as it faces a difficult experience of how the community reacts to a crime where the media manipulates information and people make judgements based on that information and treat it as fact.

Yasemin begins to lose faith in her community and religion, her father accuses her of turning against the family and her religion, she feels abandoned by her friends and is soon face with the reality that she has made judgments of others in the same way she has been judged.

Racial tension is all too common in today’s society and Harvesting Hope provides an insight into it from the victim’s point of view. What is interesting is how author Christian Ayling has portrayed the way that the community takes the media reports, gossip and rumour as fact when often what we see and hear in the media is manipulated to portray what they want us to believe to be the truth.

Underlying the racial theme in the book is also friendship. The friendship between Yasemin and her best friend, Danni, is put under stress, but in a way that Yasemin had not seen. What needs to be taken from this is that we should not make assumptions about why other people act the way that they do – there maybe underlying issues we know nothing about.

The story feels rushed at times and Ismet’s court case has been glossed over rather than allowing the tension to build about his guilt or innocence. The description of the legal process may not be entirely accurate but this does not detract from the story at all. Whilst Ismet’s alleged crime is the catalyst for the events in the story, it is not the main focus or theme and Ayling distinguishes this, preferring to examine the human relationships and interaction that come about as a result of the alleged crime.

Christian Ayling is a relatively new writer, having previously published several picture books. Harvesting Hope is his first book for the young adult/adult market and Ayling shows a lot of potential as a writer.

Harvesting Hope, by Christian Ayling
Ginninderra Press, 2007
PB rrp $18.00
ISBN 978-1-74027-457