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Origin: A Novel Hardcover – June 17, 2007
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Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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Lena doesn't know where she came from. Her foster parents tell her only so much, and her mother keeps insisting that their loving presence should be enough for her. Why didn't they ever adopt her? Lena asks the question over and over again, to no avail. Her earliest memories are of a rain forest, an ape mother, fur and leaves and a canopy of trees...was she really raised by apes until she was found by humans and put in foster care?
Abu-Jaber has done a masterful job of keeping the suspense going right to the very end. The story is compulsively readable; once you start, you can't stop until you find out what the real story is. Lena's origin has something to do with the crib deaths, but what is it? How could they possibly be connected? With the help of a detective who is more than a friend and an understanding boss and his wife, Lena pursues the question relentlessly, at her own peril. She could be the next victim.
Lena also has an ex-husband who is well-meaning most of the time, but really is a certifiable jerk, colleagues who are gossipy backbiters and a goofy neighbor, just to up the ante in this absolutely original (no pun intended) story of identity. Lena is socially inept, reclusive and possessed of an uncanny sense of smell and an intuitive approach to every question. Her character dominates the book, and as she uncovers more and more about herself, her personality opens up and, by story's end, she is becoming what she was meant to be. A departure for Abu-Jaber; a treat for readers. --Valerie Ryan
From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
In Mixed: An Anthology of Short Fiction on the Multiracial Experience, she offers a tender, poignant, Willa Cather-style coming-of-age tale intertwined with disturbing undercurrents of racial and social alienation. In The Language of Baklava, food is the delectable conduit between family, tradition, and cultural legacy. Crescent, a quirky love story, introduces the reader to a marvelously sympathetic cast of characters. And now, in Origin, Abu-Jaber again walks in a new direction, finding steady footing from the very first page with a taut mystery/thriller. Origin kept me guessing--and it kept me reading well into the night.
The deftness and humanity of her work, and her audacious transcendence of easy labels, surely earn Abu-Jaber a place in the pantheon of today's best and most intriguing authors.
With vague memories of a rain forest, Lena doesn't speak about her past, the unknown weighing on an already delicate psyche. Lena is that rarest of creatures, an unassuming, devoted employee who only desires to perform her duties in the Lab, following the intricate whorls of fingerprints as incontrovertible evidence. When a recent tragic crib death is challenged by a desperate mother who begs Lena to delve deeper than the obvious, the fingerprint expert is trapped by the tormented woman's pleas, sensing that indeed there may be another, more heinous explanation for the death. Recently, a number of other so-called crib deaths have occurred in the same county, in sufficient number to warrant further investigation.
Thus begins Lena's troubled foray into the complex world of a baby killer, complicated by her own confusing history cobbled from fragments of memory. Eventually, Lena is forced to question her past with a growing suspicion that it is inextricably bound to the deaths of the babies.Read more ›
Abu-Jaber also creates a sympathetic character in Lena Dawson, a fingerprint examiner at the Syracuse crime lab. She has some issues, mainly with her foster parent, Pia, who never adopted her. Abu-Jaber also does an excellent job with the minor characters who work in the forensics lab. Her immediate superior Alyce, Sylie in Trace Analysis, and Margot in DNA analysis will remind you of people in your own office. Then there's Charlie, Lena's ex-husband and sensitive detective Keller who supplants Charlie as a love interest. Put them all together and you have a believable world.
Somebody in Syracuse is murdering babies and Lena is the only one, outside of one of the parents, who believes it's not Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. She has an incredible sense of smell and realizes almost immediately that there's something wrong with the baby blankets of the SIDS victims.
One minor complaint I had was Lena's memory of being raised by an ape after a plane crash until at the age of three she was taken in by Pia. I felt that was just a bit over-the-top. But Abu-Jaber uses that motif as a plot thread, and it all comes clear in the end.
Diana Abu-Jaber is an impressive young writer, and I'll be looking forward to her next novel.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good descriptive writer with an unusual storyline. Very weird main character with rather far out background and search f. Might not for self identity. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Kindle Customer
Exceptional writing by very talented individual. All of her books have been excellent, insightful and as important as anything, unique. Highly recommended.Published 2 months ago by Charles Lewis
Just barely got through it! Had to read color for book club! I could not feel for the main character at all. Not realistic to me. Her other books I liked! SorryPublished on February 6, 2014 by Mabel
My wife and I listen to the audiobook version of Origin on a car trip recently. It was so compelling that at the end of the trip, we brought the CDs inside to finish listening to... Read morePublished on December 15, 2013 by Ed Battistella
This books started out pretty well, but it just never went anywhere. It was very boring. How on EARTH did this get published????Published on October 6, 2013 by Dog Mom
This was a bookclub pick-I did enjoy reading this book-was a wee bit disappointed in the end but otherwise a good read-Published on August 11, 2013 by hon143
I hadn't ever read anything else by Abu-Jaber, but something about the description of this book really grabbed me. It turned out to be even more engaging than I had imagined. Read morePublished on June 8, 2013 by kaf
Brief Description: Lena Dawson is a fingerprint specialist who has an odd gift for communicating almost telepathically with crime scenes. Read morePublished on February 28, 2012 by Jennifer
On the surface this is a standard police-procedural thriller from the lab side a la CSI, but the surface is a very thin thing. Read morePublished on February 6, 2012 by Amazon Customer