A Woman is No Man – Etaf Rum

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.

My Thoughts…

This book was a heart breaking story of loyalty, pride, tradition, and strength. Isra and Deya are a generation apart and still show many of the same qualities. They are both extremely loyal to their families and show great strength. 

Isra’s world and life is steeped in tradition and expectations of what her life should be like. As a teen she has an arranged marriage, moves to a strange country, and is expected to give her new husband loads of sons. Her strength and resilience in the face of her new reality shows her young daughters not to let men rule their life, and that they are their own individual people. 

As a result of her mother’s constant suffering Deya has learned to question the ways of her culture and put them to the test when deciding what’s best for her future. She knows she doesn’t want the same life as her mother. She wants to go to college, and do so much more with her life. 

The relationships across generations in this book are absolutely soul crushing. The treatment and experiences these women endure made me cry several times throughout the book. It’s hard to put yourself in the shoes of someone from another culture, and imagine how you would react if you were in their situation. I can’t even imagine going through the experiences these women had. I am in awe of their strength. I know these characters are not real people, but they ARE real people. There are women in this world that are having these same experiences right now. It breaks my heart. I am humbled by the small window of time I was able to experience some of the intricacies of this culture. 

Etaf Rum is a debut author and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to choose her book as my Book of the Month selection for February. I am so excited for future works by this author.


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