“From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant” by Alex Gilvarry

I finally finished a book! It took what felt like five years, but I’m so satisfied. From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant, is about a fashion designer, Boyet Hernandez, who is placed in Guantanamo Bay after convening with the wrong people. I decided to read this book after Gilvarry came by the bookstore for a book signing and reading. After he read his first excerpt, I was hooked. After the second one, I knew it would open my eyes to many things I had never thought about before. I was 10 when the planes crashed into the Twin Towers, and I really had no idea what the War on Terror even was. I was ignorant, blissful, and young, and I still am. Although I like to think I know more now, I still feel stupid when I talk to young politicians my age who seem to know everything about everything. This book helped show me exactly how people felt and the great unrest that terrorists forsaked on this nation and our nation’s leaders.

The story is a memoir of Boy’s life from when he first came to the United States from the Philippines, until what he calls, “The Overwhelming Event,” and eventually to his time in No Man’s Land. He first arrives in 2002, craving to become a great designer like his idols, Chanel and Dior. He moves into an apartment in a sketchy part of town and meets his neighbor, Ahmed Qureshi. He pegs Qureshi as a liar immediately, but has no idea how much trouble this man will ultimately cause him. Qureshi invests in Boy’s clothing line with money he’s made though terroristic alliances. With an investor, Boy is finally able to make a breakthrough in the fashion world, but it comes at a terrible cost.  Right before Barney’s and Neiman’s are about to present his line, Boy gets taken in the middle of the night to Guantanamo Bay, accused of being a terrorist.

Boy charmed me from the first page with his wit and big dreams. The novel made me laugh out loud at points and almost cry at others. Most of the book is comedy and social commentary until you get to the last ten pages and get a real view of how awful Boy’s final days at Gitmo were. The government was just as frantic about terrorism as our citizens were which caused people to be wrongfully accused. I don’t want to give anything away, but this book was worth reading just for the insight it gives you at the very end. I would highly recommend this book to anyone. It was a very good read and great debut novel for Gilvarry!


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