Book Review: Ouch, An explosive read – you will be shaken and stirred!

OUCH! a memoir with a twist … will blow up the literary scene as acclaimed author Chaker Khazaal returns with his 5th novel. Khazaal penned this riveting story in 17 days following the catastrophic blast in the port of Beirut on August 4, 2020, that killed hundreds and injured thousands of citizens. As explosive material discharged and blanketed the city, Khazaal’s psyche detonates, unearthing demons of deeply buried secrets. With an outpouring of raw emotion and a gut-wrenching narrative, you feel the pain, suffering, and turmoil as it bubbles to the surface.

With the world in lockdown, OUCH! was written on the balcony of the Smallville Hotel in Beirut. Grounded and writing under an open sky, Khazaal appears to have come full circle. As a child on the rooftop of his compound, he ate and played with his family and friends under the open sky and could only dream of leaving. This time under the open sky there’s caffeine and alcohol to fuel his angst.

OUCH! delves deep inside the twisted minds of characters past and present. Complex personalities are haunting and engaging, and it is heartening to discover that an exhausting storyline came from a humble beginning. You will fall in love with young Chaker of the Camp, a third-generation refugee who loves to act and lives with his family in Bourj El Barajneh, a one-kilometer-square Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut. Grounded from birth, he would watch the planes fly overhead, dreaming of the day he would escape and find his rightful place in the world. It remains the single driving force in his life, beautifully written and blended throughout the plot. Rooftops and balconies emote pleasure and pain, weaving interlocking stories.

It is a captivating tale of hope with a strong message that all things are possible.  OUCH! is truly inspirational. It uncovers the journey of a troubled, uneducated, displaced teenager who finds his rightful place in the world with a diploma and Canadian citizenship. I felt proud reading about his international career as a reporter, author, speaker, writer, and award-winning author.Rich in dialogue, OUCH! reveals the commitment Khazaal affords those less fortunate. A true humanitarian he gives those silenced a universal voice. The array of prominent figures he can call on in times of global catastrophes encompasses a who’s who from all walks of life. Everyone wants to be in the orbit of Chalker of the World, with his big ears and winning smile. It’s easy to delight in his natural ability to poke fun at himself as he plots his escape to find his rightful place in the world. 

OUCH! is a remarkable journey of pain, suffering, and psychological conflict. Add to the mix an inexplicable connection with a mysterious Palestinian waiter at the Smallville Hotel, and you end up with a psychological thriller spilling a secret you never saw coming.

Rating: 4.5/5

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