Finished A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum. I received a copy for review.
Summary (from Goodreads):
“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.”
This is an amazing and intense debut novel. I think a lot of actively literate women will relate to the bookish heroines here, regardless of their lives up to this point. (I’m white and somewhat Christian; I’ve never been to Palestine and am very removed from the lives that Isra and Deya had, but I can definitely identify with the idea of wanting more from life and from finding escape in books.)
I mention all this because sometimes it seems like people think that books are not necessarily for them, which makes me sad. Good books are for everyone, and this is a great book. (Not even a “great debut novel,” but a great novel full stop.)
This story completely broke my heart and I will never forget it. If you’re in a book club, suggest it. I guarantee the best discussion you’ve had in ages.