Planes by Peter Baker [in Booklist]
Palestinian American Lameece Issaq expertly ciphers debut-novelist Peter C. Baker’s quartet with equal conviction beyond geographies, genders, and backgrounds. In Rome, Amira – born Maria, now a convert to Islam – works in a shop and returns to an empty apartment because her immigrant husband Ayoub has been imprisoned without charge for two years in Morocco.
In Sweetwater, North Carolina, lawyer Bradley is insisting his secretary book a “prank” appointment under a false name with a realtor – who’s just dumped him. That realtor, Mel, is desperate to talk to her college son, who has discovered her affair with Bradley. Philandering aside, Mel loves her husband, although she wonders how their lives have strayed so far from their younger, idealistic, committed selves.
When Ayoub is finally released (traumatized, tortured, yet still uncharged) and returns to Amira, he must learn how to live again. Baker deftly connects these four narratives via the titular planes, with the discovery of a private North Carolina company contracted for extraordinary rendition flights.
Chameleonic Issaq is uneasy as Amira, entitled as Bradley, unsettled as Mel, and broken as Ayoub, revealing unexpected connections – and consequences.
Review: “Media,” Booklist, August 2022