Today I have a review of A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum. Brace yourselves, friends. This is one of my favorite books of 2019! Thanks to Harper Books for the invitation to read and review!
Sometimes you read a book and you have no idea where to start because your emotions are all over the place? Am I right? But I also want to write my review now because my emotions are fresh, and this book was an emotional ride from start to finish.
Told in two past timelines with different narrators, we mostly hear from eighteen-year-old Deya, and her mother, Isra. We also occasionally hear from Fareeda, Deya’s grandmother and Isra’s mother-in-law.
The family is Palestinian, and the story begins with Isra living in Palestine and succumbing to an arranged marriage with a Palestinian American, Adam. I say “succumbing” because she did not want to get married and leave her family thousands of miles behind.
Isra also shares that she did not grow up in the most loving of homes, including insights into a daughter’s unique role in the family- getting the tea and coffee just right, not being educated, and keeping quiet about the physical abuse that occurs.
Deya also does not want to get married, and Fareeda is working hard to arrange her match. Deya Dreams of college and loves to read. She travels many of the same roads as her mother- being seen as a burden because she is a girl, not placing a value on her education, her voice not being heard, requiring constant supervision…
There’s also a mystery within this story. Deya has been told her parents died in a car accident, but she learns that is not the case. So what happened to them? There is a web of secrets Deya never could have imagined.
I savored A Woman Is No Man. I read it slowly and reflected throughout. The writing is beautiful, but precise, and completely engaging, and it begs thoughtfulness. In my own family, I received mixed messages about the roles of women, but mostly, my biggest takeaways were that I was to be educated and fierce. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be taught the exact opposite messages, repeatedly, day in and out, with total silence about reality being the norm.
Overall, A Woman Is No Man is a thoughtful, honest, powerful portrayal of a family, its cultural values, and its inner workings. Sometimes we remember the experiences we have while reading a book. The thoughts, self-reflections. I can tell you this story will never leave me.
This important article written by the author is not to be missed. https://lithub.com/even-after-writing-my-novel-shame-kept-me-from-sharing-my-story/
I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.
Introducing a brave, new Arab-American voice, an unflinching debut novel that takes us inside a world where few of us have been before: the lives of conservative Arab women living in America.
In Brooklyn, eighteen-year-old Deya is starting to meet with suitors. Though she doesn’t want to get married, her grandparents give her no choice. History is repeating itself: Deya’s mother, Isra, also had no choice when she left Palestine as a teenager to marry Adam. Though Deya was raised to believe her parents died in a car accident, a secret note from a mysterious, yet familiar-looking woman makes Deya question everything she was told about her past. As the narrative alternates between the lives of Deya and Isra, she begins to understand the dark, complex secrets behind her fragile community.
Set in an America that may feel removed yet is all too close at hand, A Woman Is No Man is both a gripping page-turner and an intimate family portrait. Fans of The Kite Runner and Everything I Never Told You will be drawn to this powerful novel.
Have you read A Woman Is No Man, or is it on your TBR? Happy Reading! ~ Jennifer THR