Title: A Woman is No Man
Author: Etaf Rum
Pub Date: 2019
No. Of pages: 336
Where I got it: Reposed book subscription
Time to read: 11 days (not a reflection of the book)
Quick review: This is eye opening. I loved it and found it difficult to read in equal measure
Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ | 5
A Woman is No Man tells the story of a mother and her daughter, and the expectations of Palestinian women.
Isra is a Palestinian woman, married off through an arranged marriage to Adam, the son of Fareeda. Moving to America to be with him, it’s clear she is deeply unhappy, as she struggled o live up to her mother-in-laws expectations.
As is expected of her, she gives birth to four children – but much to Fareeda’s disappointment they are all girls.
Deya, Isra’s eldest daughter is set to meet the same fate at the hands of Fareeda. But Deya is having none of it!
We find out early on that Isra is no longer around. She and Adam died in a car crash some ten years ago.
And then estranged family member appears. Family truths are exposed and Deya finds herself on her own path.
What did I think?
I’ve wanted to read this book for some time, so when it turned up in my Reposed box I was nothing short of delighted! It got bumped straight to the top of my to be read pile and it did not disappoint.
The first couple of chapters are quite long but I think that’s because you’re getting quite a bit of context setting and the start of the stories of both Isra and Deya. After that they were a far more reasonable length.
The book itself was easy to read without it compromising on quality of the writing and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I loved the character of both Deya and Sarah – they both had determination to break from the norm which made them extremely likeable.
Isra was a different kettle of fish, but the way it was written made me see how she could feel stuck in her situation rather than frustrated that she didn’t make a change.
As for Fareeda, much as she angered me for quite a large portion of the book, by the end I was starting to feel as though I understood her as a character much more.
As I always find with books that teach me about other cultures, the one feeling I always come away with is gratitude for living in the UK. The prospect of being considered good for nothing but bearing children and keeping a home terrifies me as a woman who enjoys having a career and is 33 with no children in sight any time soon.
Please give this book a read. It was everything I wanted it to be and more. Tough as it was to read in parts (subject matter, not writing) it’s well worth adding this to your list of books to read.