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.
“Soon you’ll learn that there’s no room for love in a woman’s life. There’s only one thing you’ll need, and that’s patience.”
Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man
For the most part, I enjoyed A Woman Is No Man, but I felt the story dragged a little bit towards the end. I thought Rum’s writing was stunning, detailed, and eloquent. She weaved a multigenerational story filled with extremely complex characters. I did find myself disheartened throughout the novel because of the treatment of the various Arab women. Nevertheless, I felt a connection with Deya and her mother, Isra, and my heart went out to Isra too many times to count. She lived such a painful life, but her love of books made me smile. Although parts of the novel were unhappy and frustrating, the writing was quite powerful and captivating. The world needs more diverse writers such as Rum to tell their stories and teach us more about other cultures and lives.
Thanks to Edelweiss and Harper for an advanced copy of the book in exchange for an honest review (ended up buying a copy as well).