Friday, January 21

Book Review: A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum

Author: Etaf Rum
Title: A Woman is No Man
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction, Contemporary
Format: paperback
Pages: 384
Published: March 5th 2019
Where I Got It: Borrowed from family member for book club

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.

My family decided to have a random book club. I think there are like 10 books overall that will be shipped around. It's fun. This is the book that was sent to me. Now that I have it done I'll ship it to the next family member. Curious to see when and what is sent to me next! 

Here we follow Isra in the 1990s who is young and loves reading in secret. Soon her father finds her a husband who seems perfect. She dreams of love and freedom, so she accepts. She thinks that is all coming true when her husband takes her away to Brooklyn. There she realizes...she has no freedom still and no love whatsoever. She is forced to suffer her oppressive mother-in-law and her strange husband that she can't seem to please. She is surrounded by his family, but she feels utterly alone in a land she doesn't know forced to have children. We also follow Deya who is Isra's oldest daughter in 2008. All she wants to do is have the freedom to go to college before she marries, but her grandmother will not allow her. Grandmother Freeda wants her to get married. Since her parents died in a car accident years previous...Deya feels conflicted. She wants to leave, but she loves her sisters. Shocking truths come out and everything will change forever. 

When I flipped to the last page I found myself with a tear in my eye. There is a line of hope, but this was just so tragic overall. We do find out the truth behind Isra's and her husband's death and a lot of other secrets. I seen it coming a mile away, but like Deya...I was blinded by hope that it wasn't so. Gah. 

I found this whole story tragic like I stated already, but I have to say it again. These women are caught in-between holding onto their culture, but also wanting to be free. I wanted to scream! You can keep the good parts of your culture and toss away the bad parts like forced marriages and being okay with the fact the men rule the roost and beat their wives. There is so much beauty in keeping the GOOD traditions alive. Just because you let go of the bad stuff doesn't mean you will lose your culture and your community. I wanted to shake everyone here! Such a sad, tragic story. 

All the characters were extremely flawed but they had some good in them too. They were all extremely complex even quiet Isra. They all felt pressure and are creatures of their up-bringing. Like Freeda...the MIL for instance. She had a terrible and poverty-filled upbringing. She really didn't know any better. She truly and utterly believed that she was doing what was best for her family by pressuring her eldest son (Isra's husband) to support ALL of them and by pressuring Isra to produce a son and marry off the young girls. It made you feel bad for all of them. 

There was ONE twist that had me clap and be happy. I can't say, but it really did bring hope for Deya and the remaining parts of the family. That made me happy. Sure it lead Deya down the tunnel of finding out the truth in what happened in 1997, but the truth HAD to come out. 

I will say that this book is a great book for a book club. There is a LOT to talk about. I wish I could say more without giving away MAJOR spoilers. This was really thought provoking and you couldn't help feel all the feels. 

My only issue was the beginning. The first like 50 pages were rough to get through. It seemed to drag on and on. I did want to quit, but I kept pushing because I knew it had to get better. I'm glad I stuck it out because then I was GLUED. I couldn't stop reading. I had to follow Isra and Deya. 

Overall, this was a great book for a book club and discussion. I feel like I could go on and on more, but I fear I'll give away spoilers. The beginning was rough, but it got better and I'm glad I stayed the course. I'll stamp this with 4 stars. 


Blodeuedd said...

Family book club?! Awww

Carole Rae said...


Jen Twimom said...

What a fun concept of a family book club. That would never work in my family, we all ready totally different genres.

This one sounds so heart breaking. I bet I'd be in tears. Glad you enjoyed!

Carole Rae said...

Jen, ya it was a voluntold thing lol. I think my Aunt tried to pick a variety of books. And yesss this was heart breaking for sureeee