A WOMAN IS NO MAN by Etaf Rum
Updated: Apr 10
★★★★★/ 5 (Standard)
★★★★.5/ 5 (Mama Scale)
A moving novel about questioning the "status quo" within Arab American culture.
A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum was my first story about an Arab American Family. I don’t know the gravity of vulnerability Etaf experienced in writing this story but — to me, the reader — it felt incredibly profound.
I want to first thank Etaf for stepping into this void. This story is so special and beautifully written and speaks so eloquently across cultures. I was really moved by all of the women in this book, as well as Isra’s Father-in-law (in the end). I was moved by their fears, their hesitations, and the conflict that shows its face when standing at the fence of abiding by a culture’s norms or saying “no, there must be a better way.”
I really appreciated Etaf’s gentle reprimand of the twisted ideals that can sprout forth from good intentions without condemning the Islamic faith (this was especially seen in Deya’s interactions at school).
This is a story of courage and the necessity of standing up for good and truth.
My only critique of the novel is in its layout — I wish we could’ve stayed longer with each character before flipping in time. Also — still not sure how I feel about the ending; I need to process it a bit more, but I really am on the edge of being a fan (for a few reasons I won’t spoil the book for you here with).
Overall, this book was a real honor to read.
Yes!! For sure, to anyone who is interested in an illustration of Arab American culture or just, ya know, anyone who wants to grow a little as a human.
Cultural insensitivity, domestic abuse, suicide & depression.
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