This compelling read follows three generations of Palestinian women living in Brooklyn struggling to find their own voice within their strict traditional community - sure to kick-start your lively conversations in your book club!
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A WOMAN IS NO MAN
BY ETAF RUM
"Any lingering hope that America would be better than Palestine fell away at that moment. A woman would always be a woman."
Etaf Rum’s debut novel 'A Woman is no Man' is a heart-breaking story about entrapment, loss of identity and loneliness. The story follows three generations of Palestinian women living in Brooklyn, New York. Rum highlights the struggle for young Arab women trying to find their voice in a modern western world. With so many important discussion points, this compelling story is sure to kick-start lively conversations in your book club!
Fareeda's story - Fareeda remembers how harsh life was in the refugee camps. Having persuaded her husband to move to America, she tries to uphold the role accepted for Palestinian women and instil its culture in her children and grandchildren with ruthless determination despite the tragedy it may cause. But over time, as heartbreak engulfs the family, she begins to wonder whether the djinn has cursed her family.
Isra's story - Isra’s life changes in 1990, when barely 18, she is forced into an arranged marriage in Palestine and sent to live with her new husband Adam in Brooklyn, watched over by her controlling mother in law, Fareeda. Within days her dreams of a different and new future similar to the fairy tales she loves to read about, disappear. When she produces daughters instead of sons it seems her fate and that of her children, is doomed.
Deya's story - It’s 2008 and Deya, the eldest of four girls, is struggling to remember her parents who she has been told died in a car crash. When a stranger secretly delivers a card requesting a meeting, she is forced to confront her fear, uncover the truth about her parents and be accountable for her future.
Rum painstakingly highlights the struggle for young Arab women trying to find their own voice within a strict traditional culture. She gives us a candid insight into that community and the necessity to keep up appearances at all costs. The ending is unexpected and adds another dynamic discussion in your book club conversation.
If you enjoyed this book, the Den suggests you try two memoirs reviewed in our library which also look at women being cut off and isolated within their strict communities in the US. 'Unorthodox' by Deborah Feldman and 'Educated' by Tara Westover are two equally compelling reads.