Is history to repeat itself? Isra Hadid entered into an arranged marriage at seventeen, being unceremoniously dispatched from Palestine to live in Brooklyn, New York. Years later, it is her daughter's turn. Eighteen-year-old Deya is just as reluctant to be deprived of freedom and further education. The years have passed, but just how much has really changed?
Moving between Palestine in 1990 and 2009 Brooklyn, this is an emotionally charged story of duty-bound lives dictated by cultural expectation and the dark, complex secrets of a migrant community trying to preserve its traditions at all cost.
Set in America, this debut novel is a story of culture and honour, secrets and betrayals, love and violence. It is an intimate glimpse of three generations in a controlling and closed cultural world and a universal tale about family and the ways silence and shame can destroy those we have sworn to protect. Our book club thought it was very well-written in a moving, although harrowing manner. It was a revelation to witness the struggle of the Arab/American women to assimilate into American life, which still occurs today. It certainly generated a lot of discussion amongst the group.
Well-written book, good characters all there for a purpose, none were superfluous. Very confronting story, several members were both angry/upset for the women and how constrained they were. Lots of good discussion about a wide range of issues, including changes for Maori women. Our group is all women, and would definitely recommend this book.
Gritty topic, but well-written and well researched and informative. Everyone loved the book and there was lots of discussion.
Some did not read it. Those who did thought it was a very good book. A hard subject covered very well which led to a long discussion about gender equality. One of the best books this year.
This book provoked two opposite reactions. Some felt the format was confusing (jumping from different eras and narrators) but that the subject matter was illuminating. Others could not like the book because the subject matter was too depressing. At least one of our group felt the book was very much a first novel, and that a good editor would have removed some of the repetitive descriptions of food preparation, and would have smoothed out the jerky narrative structure. We all felt that we should thank our lucky stars to live in a society where, as women, we are not restricted by our culture...
An insight into a very different world and way of life, but we found this book a little tedious and repetitive.
All 9 of us agreed for once! A brilliantly written and emotionally moving book. Culturally enlightening and at the same time disturbing. Several of the group argued that everyone in the book was a victim - the women, but also the eldest son - forced to live as his parents wanted and eventually emulating the behaviour of other men toward their wives. Clever analysis of the gradual acceptance of other ways in New York - Sarah being a good example.
A great read - we all thoroughly enjoyed it.
Beautifully written - a real eye-opener. Tragic too, though.
A lot of discussion. Many found it very depressing, especially the fact that it still happens in today's society. The notes were excellent.
Lots of discussion on this one. Most enjoyed it.
Approached with some trepidation by some members, but a great read albeit sobering!
All decided it was best suited for young adults. Most members struggled to finish it, though it raised many points for discussion.
Enjoyed by all, horrified that this still exists in "modern times", but the reality is that a lot of the world still suppresses women for religious reasons.
We all loved this book. Several of us reading within a couple of days and staying up late to finish it. The writing is wonderful, the story is heartbreaking and hopeful. The best book we've read this year!
This book created quite a lot of discussion about culture, and how difficult it is for people to leave their traditions behind. Most felt it was a difficult read but were pleased to have read it as it was thought provoking and informative.
This is a very well-written and well structured story. Once started it became a compulsive read. Though it is written as fiction, the thoughts of the main characters were clearly autobiographical, or based on the experiences of others well known to the author. It also tackles an issue that is not common in modern fiction, or in serious discussion of issues confronting different cultural groups...
We all agreed that the subject matter of this book will stay with us for a very long time. We felt like we were on a roller coaster ride of emotions: sorrow, frustration, sadness, oppression, domination... but overall the lack of freedom. We are all so grateful to live in NZ and only have minor worries!
Gripping - need to read in one go! Powerful, and a very readable extraordinary story. Confronting, well-written, made the reader feel uncomfortable. Notes should be read.
It's true that we need to know about the lives of these women ( even in such recent times) but it does make for harrowing reading. We struggled to understand how the women kept perpetuating this intergenerational behaviour/system which is effectively cruel.
A gruelling depressing read on domestic violence, but we felt it was important to bear witness to these cultural stories. We got a better understanding of the Palestinian refugee experience, and that men were also victims of cultural family expectations. The ending had some hope in it, with the parents now understanding how they had hurt their children and the younger generation assertively standing up for a better life.
This book stimulated an interesting discussion. We thought it was a very good debut novel. It is important to be reminded that these issues are still current.
We considered it a well-written and constructed book. However we all felt it was harrowing but revealing, and very relevant in light of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict this month. There was much discussion on the entrenched nature of the culture and traditions that immigrants bring with them that tend not to move on as they do in the original homeland. Overall we felt the end of the book did show hope of resolution.
This book gave a hard hitting portrayal of the way women are treated due to cultural traditions. It provoked a lot of discussion.