• Rachel Penate


Updated: Apr 10, 2020


★★★★★/ 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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