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Double Exposure (The Annie Hawkins Green)
by Jeannée Sacken

Published: 2022-09-27T00:0
Paperback : 448 pages
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November 2015-Seasoned war photojournalist Annie Hawkins returns home after an assignment to find her life falling apart. She's under investigation for an incident that happened six months earlier in Afghanistan. Her best friend's daughter, Seema, is still missing, apparently with her ...
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Introduction

November 2015-Seasoned war photojournalist Annie Hawkins returns home after an assignment to find her life falling apart. She's under investigation for an incident that happened six months earlier in Afghanistan. Her best friend's daughter, Seema, is still missing, apparently with her Taliban boyfriend. Her daughter Mel and friends are busy fundraising to rebuild the Wad Qol Secondary School for Girls and expect Annie to deliver the money. To make matters worse, she has a major argument with the love of her life, Finn Cerelli, and they're no longer speaking.

When Annie returns to Afghanistan to cover peace talks between the government and the Taliban, she takes a side trip to Wad Qol, where she discovers that not everyone wants the new school. Sabotage delays construction, and when a worker ends up dead, it's clear the militants are to blame. It's also obvious that they know exactly where Annie is.

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Excerpt

October, 2015
Doha, Qatar

ANOTHER AIRPORT. ANOTHER DELAY. I stand rooted in the
middle of the jostling crowd, staring at the international departures
board for a full minute after the ON TIME posting for my flight to
Dulles disappears. The agent at the gate tells me they’re waiting for
a new crew. It could take hours. As a war photographer, I’m used
to delays. But after three months on assignment in Saudi Arabia
and Yemen, I want to get back to the States. First, to D.C. and a
few heavenly days with U.S. Navy SEAL Captain Finn Cerelli.
Then, home to Milwaukee for some long-overdue time with my
sixteen-year-old daughter Mel. I can only hope she’ll put whoever
her current boyfriend is on hold to spend time with me. Probably
not a realistic expectation for a noncustodial mother who drops
into her life once in a while, but I can always hope. For now, I’ve got
to find a comfortable place to hole up and wait.
I shoulder my Lowepro camera pack and trudge back into
the main terminal of Hamad International Airport. Strolling
past glitzy stores—the likes of Gucci and Burberry, Bulgari and
Tiffany—rarified places where I can’t afford to shop, I make my
way to the Oryx Lounge, one of my favorite spots in any airport.
Crossing the room to an empty and dimly lit corner, I
recognize a few other photogs and journalists. Some are staring
glassy-eyed at their cell phones, decompressing, clearly on their
way home. Others are chatting and laughing, stoked on adrenaline,
about to head out on assignment. I avoid eye contact, grateful to
be alone. Claiming two club chairs, I slip off my pack onto one of
them—my way of making sure no one joins me.
Nursing a double Maker’s neat, I relish the smooth nuttiness
that warms all the way down. I also power on my cell, determined
to make the most of the first reliable Wi-Fi in months to catch
up on my text messages. Hundreds to get through, but there are
three people I need to contact first. I alert Mel that I’ll be arriving
sometime this coming weekend, just in case she has plans involving
a boyfriend in my no-boys-allowed apartment. Not a rule she tends
to obey when I’m out of the country, which drives me to distraction.
I should probably confiscate her key, except she needs a place to
retreat to when she’s not getting along with her father, or more
typically, her stepmother. Things got pretty dicey between them
five months ago—the last time I was in Afghanistan.
I swirl the bourbon in the glass. Maybe I need to think about
renegotiating the custody arrangement? Mel would love that. A
long sip. But how the hell could I ever make it work? My job has
me out of country for months at a time. I tuck the thought away for
consideration at some future—and unspecified—date.
Then, I let my boss know I’ll check in with him as soon as I get
to D.C.
I save Cerelli for last, warning him that I’ll be later than
expected. I’m savoring my bourbon and thinking of the man
himself, working myself into glorious anticipation, when my phone
buzzes in a new message.
My body is mine,
But my Beloved drinks me like rare, red wine.
I smile at the landay. Cerelli is rugged and fearless and all
military. He also composes the most romantic poems I’ve ever read.
Kind of ironic since landays are traditionally composed by young
Afghan women for lovers their parents will never allow them to
marry. My heart quickens as I read the poem again. Damn, I’ve
missed him. Even though he seriously complicates my life. Not for
the first time, I wish I carried a picture of him. But No pictures! is
his constant refrain. Nothing that could possibly link me to him
should terrorists ever kidnap me. No matter. The image I carry in
my mind’s eye is much better. His silvering hair, military short now,
not the ponytail he wore when I first met him nine years ago. Brown
eyes that melt when he sees me, making me want to swim into them
and take up residence. And his arms, so strong they could break a
person in two, but they make me feel safe.
I take another look at the landay and exhale my disappointment.
Not from Cerelli. It’s from someone called Rahila. No last name.
Rahila? As in Rachel. My middle name. Seema’s, too. Seema—the
girl I love second to my own daughter. The girl who disappeared
months ago.
... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

From the author:

1. Annie is suspended from her job for having aimed a gun at
Piera McNeil. In what ways does this leave Annie morally
compromised?

2. Annie and Cerelli regularly keep significant secrets from each
other. How does their secret-keeping affect their relationship?

3. Annie’s PTSD continues to be a problem for her in Double
Exposure. What impact does this have on the story? Why is
she reluctant to deal with it?

4. Annie’s daughter, Mel, is a secondary character who plays a
major role. How do her actions affect the events of the story?

5. During Annie’s stay in Wad Qol, she and Gulshan become
good friends. In what ways are these two women similar? In
what ways is their friendship surprising?

6. Double Exposure explores the relationships of four married
Afghan couples: Awa and Firash Faqiri, Bibi Faludi and Omar
Mohaqiq, Gulshan and Ikrom Abdulin, Seema and Awalmir.
How do these marriages differ from one another, and how do
they reflect the complexities of Afghanistan?

7. The rebuilding of the Wad Qol Secondary School for Girls
encompasses this novel. What does this endeavor mean to the
different characters?

8. Although Double Exposure is a work of fiction, it is grounded in
the reality of Afghanistan in Autumn 2015. Based on what you
know about the events of 2021, what are some of the events
and situations in the novel that could have really happened?
9. In what ways do landays drive the plot?

10. What are the different meanings that the characters attach to
the burqa in this novel?

11. What did you learn about Afghanistan and Afghan culture by
reading Double Exposure?

Jeannée would love to join your book club discussion!
Please contact her at [email protected]

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