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Sandy Miller will lead a discussion of Etaf Rum's New York Times bestselling novel A Woman is No Man. Participants are encouraged (but not required) to read the book in advance. Ask for a copy at the library’s information desk.
From Library Journal:
In her propulsive first novel, Rum tackles domestic violence and the strict mores of traditional Arab culture, showing how they affect three generations of Palestinian women.
The Brooklyn-set story focuses on Isra, a young Palestinian whose family has married her off to Adam and sent her to America to live with his family. His overbearing mother, Fareeda, reinforces the gender restrictions and stereotypes that have led to her own oppression. Rum adeptly knits together the narratives of these two women with that of Isra's daughter Deya to reveal Isra's story.
Deya, who lives with her grandparents and Isra's other three daughters, resists an arranged marriage, and Rum injects suspense as Deya gradually discovers the truth about her mother and father's relationship. Thus she gains the strength and insight needed to face her future, perhaps the same strength and insight required of Rum to write this book.
VERDICT: Rum admits in the introduction that "to tell this story would be the ultimate shame to my community." Through well-developed characters and a wonderfully paced narrative, she exposes the impact that the embedded patriarchy of some cultures can have on women while showing more broadly how years of shame, secrets, and betrayal can burden families across generations no matter what the cultural or religious affiliation. Highly recommended.