The Gatekeeper’s Notebook is a psychological thriller/suspense. It’s a bold and poignant story full of misplaced love and loss, a past colliding with the present, and the unimaginable devastation caused by spitefulness, arrogance, deceptions, and buried lies.
The story is about a beautiful young widow named Kalila Rahim. After the sudden death of her husband, Bashir, Kalila finds herself without life insurance, a mortgage in arrears, a neighbor from hell, all the crushing responsibilities and upsets of single parenthood, and a woman claiming to be her husband’s second wife and mother to his newborn baby.
Kalila’s heart is shattered, but grief can’t put a stop to the bill collectors. Upon realizing she can’t afford to live in her big, fancy home any longer, Kalila plans to sell the house and move away— start a new life, but her plans go awry when her husband’s secrets and lies surface.
Kalila is a mess. She and Bashir had fought on the night of his death. Hurtful things were said, emotions ran high, and threats were tossed about. Now, with Bashir gone, Kalila wants to do the right thing, especially for her son. Still, without a strong enough support network to help guide her through the devastation, nor any way to make enough money to pay her bills, she reverts to the lifestyle she had before converting to Islam and marrying Bashir.
Meanwhile, the neighbor who has had it in for Kalila since she moved into the neighborhood is out for blood when she discovers her husband, who has suddenly become ‘Mr. Helpful,’ has eyes for the merry widow.
WHAT THE BOOK IS NOT:
The Gatekeeper’s Notebook is not a story about the pros and cons of plural marriage, but how narcissists use the principles of religiosity to control, manipulate, and ultimately destroy the faithful in their midst. The story illustrates how self-centered, self-righteous, delusional personalities weaponize the tenets of faith against the most vulnerable, often against the same women it was designed to protect.
“The women she [the author] introduced me to were people I would know; the woman I prayed next to, the woman I smiled at while waiting for my children at the bus stop, the woman I made a plate for at the community dinner last week. The men I met in the story could easily have been the men that prayed in the rows ahead of me, next to my son or my husband. Their days and night could have been any one of the days of my life; picking up the kids, cooking dinner for the family, fussing through bedtime, and getting ready for the school day.” — Reem Fakhry.
WHAT THE BOOK DOES:
This book exposes narcissist personalities.
Narcissists aren’t cloaked villains, swathed behind masks and capes, but everyday people—husbands, wives, friends, children, and leaders in the community. They look and behave outside the home in the manner society and their places of worship deem socially acceptable. They can be perfectly charming to those they target to groom while brutally ruthless to those already subjugated. Behind closed doors, these masochistic manipulators deny accountability for their actions, twisting or retelling events to shift blame. They lie to cover their tracks, gaslighting their victims to sow self-doubt and confusion while distorting the precepts of faith to satisfy their agenda and nafs (lusts).
But it wasn’t just the narcissists that had horrible behavior in this book!
This is true.
While it is much easier to write sympathetic characters so everyone will root for the villain’s comeuppance, I set out to create a host of disagreeable personalities with the intended purpose of demonstrating what happens when the main characters are not the nicest people. When they are damaged, confused, and so beyond erratic in behavior and choices but still in need of compassion and empathy.
“With intricately fleshed out characters, Ms. Abdulaziz has written a novel that dares you to stop reading. In an upscale gated community, there are secrets that each of the characters wishes to have remain hidden…. some are innocuous, some are life-threatening. As the lives of several members of the community collide, none are safe from the fallout, and each pays a different price for the lies, deeds, or their actions. There are characters you initially sympathize with and, in the end, grow to dislike or some that you immediately mentally sneer at and are glad to see receive their comeuppance.” Amazon Review.
The Gatekeeper’s Notebook is admittedly not an easy read. Trust me, it wasn’t all that fun to write, either. In fact, this is the type of book that can get extremely uncomfortable, but it’s supposed to be. While the story is based on fictional characters, the narcissism and cruelty faced inside these pages is all too real and dangerous. Sadly, it is also becoming an epidemic. Exposure and accountability remain integral in finding a solution. Silence is not an option.
As you read The Gatekeeper’s Notebook, at the edge of your seat, wincing, remember: “Knowledge is power.”
Suspense writer Sahar Abdulaziz is the author of twelve books––including, But You LOOK Just Fine, The Broken Half, Tight Rope, The Gatekeeper’s Notebook, Unlikely Friends, Devoted Friends, Unexpected Friends, and her latest 2022 release, Forever Friends. Most of her work is in realistic fiction: psychological thrillers, suspense, and satire. She writes about characters facing complicated life challenges and is determined to tell their stories, eager to put pen to paper to share their compelling accounts. Honors include Women Under Scrutiny Anthology, Speak Up Talk Radio Firebird Book Award, The Daybreak Press Award, Fofky’s Reader’s Choice Award, and Monroe County Community Media Expression Award.