Updated: Mar 29, 2020
February, I received my first Book of the Month shipment and I was so excited for one of my picks, A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum [synopsis below.] I was tempted to go for the type of book I typically go for, thriller/suspense, but made a conscious effort to try something different. This book does not disappoint. This is Etaf Rum's first novel and I hope she continues to write more because I am a fan. [My review has no spoilers.]
I felt transported to Palestine and Brooklyn, and felt emotionally connected to the characters. I enjoy learning about other cultures and this book informs the reader about the Islamic culture and how their culture views women, family, and relationships. It was so interesting and simultaneously heart wrenching. As a mother myself, I strive everyday to give my sons the best version of myself and I know some days I fall short. It is hard to be compassionate with myself on those days. I wake up everyday thinking, I want to do my best and do what is best for them, even if it is not how I was raised. It makes you question, am I making the right choices for my children?
This book dives into the mother's role in the family and how they hold the weight of the world on their shoulders. It also dives into traditional gender roles in the Islamic culture and how that affects each generation. There is the saying, "we are a product of our environment," but in this book, the culture around women means they do not have the choices and freedom many of us take for granted. Etaf Rum writes this story of perseverance so beautifully.
I am so happy I chose this one for my February Book of the Month pick. It ranks up there with Little Fires Everywhere and Where the Crawdads Sing for my favorite books I have read this year. Synopsis and link to purchase below!
Palestine, 1990. Seventeen-year-old Isra prefers reading books to entertaining the suitors her father has chosen for her. Over the course of a week, the naïve and dreamy girl finds herself quickly betrothed and married, and is soon living in Brooklyn. There Isra struggles to adapt to the expectations of her oppressive mother-in-law Fareeda and strange new husband Adam, a pressure that intensifies as she begins to have children—four daughters instead of the sons Fareeda tells Isra she must bear.
Brooklyn, 2008. Eighteen-year-old Deya, Isra’s oldest daughter, must meet with potential husbands at her grandmother Fareeda’s insistence, though her only desire is to go to college. Deya can’t help but wonder if her options would have been different had her parents survived the car crash that killed them when Deya was only eight. But her grandmother is firm on the matter: the only way to secure a worthy future for Deya is through marriage to the right man. But fate has a will of its own, and soon Deya will find herself on an unexpected path that leads her to shocking truths about her family—knowledge that will force her to question everything she thought she knew about her parents, the past, and her own future.